Science, Art, Education, Communication

The September 2007 issue of JCOM – Journal of Science Communication – (issue 3, volume 7) is online.: Next issue will be online on the 18th December 2008. There are several articles in this issue that I find interesting and bloggable.

EDITORIAL – The better you know, the better you make your choice. The need for a scientific citizenship in the era of knowledge by Pietro Greco:

Martin W. Bauer is right, two evolutionary processes are under way. These are quite significant and, in some way, they converge into public science communication: a deep evolution of discourse is unfolding, along with an even deeper change of the public understanding of science.

Martin Dodman, Elena Camino, Giuseppe Barbiero: Language and science: products and processes of signification in the educational dialogue:

Global changes such as urbanisation, new ways of travelling, new information and communication technologies are causing radical changes in the relationships between human beings and the environment we are both a part of and depend on. Relationships which – according to a multiplicity of researches in various fields – are crucially important. Science education and the language of science risk exacerbating a tendency towards objectifying nature and inhabiting a virtual reality, thereby rendering ever more tenuous the dialogue between people and the natural world. This article examines two approaches to science and language – as products or as processes – and suggests how awareness of the dynamic relationship between language and knowledge can help restore that vital dialogue.

Marcelo Firer – Oficina Desafio – Challenging creativity:

Oficina Desafio, Challenge Workshop, is a project of UNICAMP Exploratory Science Museum – the Science Center of the State University of Campinas (Brazil). It is an outreach project, consisting of a fully – equipped mobile workshop constructed on a truck, which visits schools and gives the students open solution real problems challenging them to “design, construct and operate a device” capable of solving the challenge. Analysis of the evaluation forms answered by school students reveals that participants of the challenges perceive it as a “learning opportunity”, in the sense they identify school related capabilities as conditions that increase the chance of facing the challenges successfully.

Mico Tatalovic – Student science publishing: an exploratory study of undergraduate science research journals and popular science magazines in the US and Europe:

Science magazines have an important role in disseminating scientific knowledge into the public sphere and in discussing the broader scope affected by scientific research such as technology, ethics and politics. Student-run science magazines afford opportunities for future scientists, communicators, politicians and others to practice communicating science. The ability to translate ‘scientese’ into a jargon-free discussion is rarely easy: it requires practice, and student magazines may provide good practice ground for undergraduate and graduate science students wishing to improve their communication skills.

Donato Ramani – Being creative in a greenhouse: art and global warming:

The world, all at once, has become a small world. Not only owing to TV, satellites and the Internet that allow us to jump from side to side of our planet in a click. But also owing to a phenomenon that evokes dry lands, devastating rains, tsunamis and hurricanes, torrid summers and melting glaciers: global warming. In the heated argument on this issue with so many people talking, in the past few years also artists have made their rising voice be heard. Artists-popularisers, aware of their role and of the considerable communication potential of the art medium. Because “One salient image, sculpture or event can speak louder than volumes of scientific data”.

Gaia Salvatori – From Land art to the ‘global era’:

In the globalisation era, arts have provided food for thought on “how latitudes became forms”, to stress again that now, at global level, one should no longer define art as a contemplation “space”, but as an “environment”, a place for experience. On the other hand, already when Bern saw the inauguration of the historic exhibition “When Attitudes became Forms” in 1969, people realised that the problem was lying in the behaviour, in the attitude, of making arts towards the world. Basically, the formalistic concept of self-referentiality in a work of art was to be overcome, and attention was to be paid to procedures and contexts. In search of a new humanism in contact with the natural universe.

Alessandra Drioli – Artists and now also activists to contrast global warming:

Artists create new aesthetics to communicate new messages and new concerns. Apprehension about the climate, its changes, global warming and a disposition to anxiously running after an ideal sustainable development are part of the issues we all now experience with a certain degree of anxiety. This is why the sensitive antennae of artists have perceived and evolved that. Now they are committed on many fields to making their voice be heard and to raising ethical and social issues, also regarding the scientific instruments man possesses to manipulate nature. So they have now accessed the group of special interlocutors in the dialogue between science and society.

Andrea Polli – Non-quantitative knowledge about global warming: a trip to Antarctica:

Despite the developed world’s climate-controlled interiors and easy access to all kinds of fresh produce at any time of year, our lives are still dependent upon the weather and climate. With global warming, our dependence is becoming even more apparent. I am an artist working with new technologies and last year I had the opportunity to go to Antarctica for two months on a US National Science Foundation-sponsored residency where I worked alongside scientists studying the global implications of Antarctic weather and climate change. The Antarctic is unlike any other place on earth. There, I wanted to find a way to more closely engage with the issue of global climate change.

Robert W. Turner – Creating links between art and environmental education:

Artists have used the environment as a subject forever and there is a long history of artists whose works affect peoples’ awareness of and perceptions of their natural environments. But only relatively recently have other artists become part of the modern environmental movement and of efforts to educate college students and the population at large about environmental issues. Environmental studies programs need to take advantage of this increased interest on the part of artists, and global warming provides a perfect vehicle.

Edward Morris, Susannah Sayler – Ruminations on the role of artists in a world of science:

In January 2006, my wife Susannah Sayler and I set out to photograph landscapes around the world that were being transformed by global warming. We called our work The Canary Project. From the beginning, as now, we had both activist aims and artistic ambitions. These two types of motivation overlap in places and in other places feel completely distinct. In general, we feel as though are carrying forward a torch that science cannot carry any further. Following are some thoughts on our role as activists and as artists and as collaborators with the scientific community.

Paola Rodari – Education and science museums. Reflections in Italy and on Italy:

The educational function of science museums was born with the first naturalistic collections ever, flourished in 16th-century Italy. The pedagogic thought and the educational experimentations carried out in approximately five century of history have allowed the educational mission of museums to acquire many different facets, drawing a task having an increasingly higher and complex social value. Recent publications explore these new meanings of an old role.

Carlos Elias – Science and scientists turned into news and media stars by scientific journals. A study on the consequences on the present scientific behaviour:

This article explores whether some scientists have now actually been developing a type of science apt to be published as a piece of news, yet lacking a relevant scientific interest. Possibly, behind this behaviour there may be the present working culture, in which scientists live under the pressure of the dictatorship of the Science Citation Index (SCI) of the reference journals. This hypothesis is supported by a study demonstrating that there is a direct relation between publishing scientific results in the press and a subsequent increase in the SCI index. Many cases are here described, selected among the papers published in Nature that – according to experts – have a media interest rather than a scientific one. Furthermore, the case of the Dolly sheep cloning is studied as a paradigm for a situation in which media coverage actually destroyed the research group.


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