Commentary: Roles, opportunities, and challenges—science museums engaging the public in emerging science and technology
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Even a cursory reading of the public engagement in science (PES) literature over the past decade reveals that public engagement is becoming part of the “orthodoxy of 21st century science policy” (Stilgoe, Nanodialogues: experiments in public engagement with science, 2007, p 16), Moving forward, there appears to be strong consensus that (1) public engagement is an essential component for shaping sound science policies, research agendas, and governance structures; (2) more opportunities for accessible and successful PES need to be developed and implemented to have meaningful impact; and (3) a broader and more diverse range of publics need to be reached through PES activities. This article explores the role that U.S. science museums and centers could play in creating and delivering PES programming focusing on current science and technology developments and issues, with particular attention to nanoscience and nanotechnology. Also addressed will be some of the factors that support increased PES involvement by museums, some of the challenges museums need to overcome to sustain ongoing PES, and several recommendations to achieve broader PES impact through science museum participation.
KeywordsPublic engagement in science Science museums Informal science education PES strategies and program models PES in nanotechnology Governance
Preparation of this article was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) grant #0608791, “NIRT: Evaluating Oversight Models for Active Nanostructures and Nanosystems: Learning from Past Technologies in a Societal Context” (Principal Investi-gator: S. M. Wolf; Co-PIs: E. Kokkoli, J. Kuzma, J. Paradise, and G. Ramachandran). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.
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