Last night I gave a talk to the Kingston GoGeomatics group about SciComm. I have been involved with this group for a number of years now and was happy to be this month's featured speaker. The talk went well, the crowd was engaged, at the end they asked thoughtful questions and made meaningful comments that led to a great discussion. And those are the measures of a talk that went well for me!
I started hearing more and more about SciComm a couple years ago when the inaugural March for Science was held in Washington DC, and in solidarity across the world. There seemed to be a real concern in the US about the role of science moving forward given the political climate with Trump being elected president, and I am uncertain whether there have been significant changes in this regard. This politically motivated activism is not unfamiliar and in Canada under Harper government research scientists were muzzled and protests ensued, though not at quite the same scale or level of participation or public knowledge.
At the same time, people had seemed to start distrusting science more and more. And I got the impression that people perceived disconnect between science and society. The amalgamation of factors gave many scientists a voice that they may not have used before or under different circumstances. Simply speaking - choosing what to say, to who, how and when - can be an activist act in this context. One of the most important possible outcomes of SciComm is to raise awareness, the intent and effect of which may be to education or inspire, but it may also be more related to advocacy or activism.
Often the part of science that seems to get communicated is the result. But I think we should work towards the goal of translating the entire scientific process to the public.