Working towards effective knowledge transfer…

When we first discussed convening a panel at the Science in Public conference, our idea centered on the topic of expertise and whether the concept of expertise needed to adapt given the current climate. But after identifying our panelists and reading about their work, we realised that a more satisfying discussion might emerge if the discussion was framed within the broader topic of challenges associated with effective knowledge transfer.

We’re happy to report that all participants were very well behaved and the session was a good starting point for picking apart this tricky topic. But it felt like just the tip of the iceberg…

We brought together 5 very different voices and by the time the panelists had shared their provocations on the nature of non-exchange, there was relatively little time to start working towards new approaches in knowledge transfer.

We’re tidying up the audio into digestible chunks to give you a chance to experience the session and we’ll also be writing up a richer summary of the exchange in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, some take-aways:

  • More than one panelist pointed out the danger of a simplified rhetoric that labels the “public as stupid” and “NGOs as troublemakers”. Precisely this lack of empathy and appreciation for the agency of the public voice can lie at the core of non-exchange.
  • Panelists agreed that while very public controversies around subjects such as GMOs and vaccines had problematic narratives, they drew attention to the need for better communication about the issues.
  • There was much emphasis on the need for dedicated mediators to improve and recognise the value of science communication by dedicated mediators - not all scientists are naturals at communicating their message to the public!
  • Another solution that can allow for better exchange is to bring the public closer to the science - either through hands-on experimentation with the cutting edge such as CRISPR-kitsor developing dialogues during all stages of the scientific endeavour, incorporating the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation.
  • The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) already uses citizen input in many ways. Expertise is not always the solution and there is much value contained in localised citizen monitoring and reporting efforts.
  • Citizen engagement and knowledge exchange from citizens to “experts” is not an easy problem and challenges such as motivation need to be addressed.
  • 4 core principles of the DIY movement are: freedom, agency, equity and autonomy. Importantly these principles point to the value of respect but also, responsibility.

Check out our commentary on these discussions in the September 2017 issues of Journal of Science Communication. Let us know what you think about #knowledgetransfer @TogetherSci, @TekiuLtd

Discussions after the session

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Published at
July 21, 2017