The subject area of the 10th PCST (Public Communication of Science and Technology) conference is “Bridges to the future”. Among nearly 400 proposals, 30 seminars and nearly 300 abstracts have been selected for the final programme, targeting a variety of topics ranging from new media to communicating about climate change. Emerging issues in science and society are the core of the programme, and several sessions will be devoted to climate change and communicating risks. One session will have the title “Medical messages in the media – reliable information or science for sale?” dealing with the difficulties medical journalists have to maintain their integrity and independence while under pressure from “Big Pharma” and other pressure groups. Among the prominent plenary speakers is Janez Potoènik, European Commissioner for Science and Research.
Cultural similarities and differences
The speakers will be coming from Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, China and Brazil, a total of 19 countries. This broad representation will inspire much discussion about the impact of local culture and context on science coverage, for example a comparative analysis between North American and French coverage of climate change. Other sessions will be devoted to science journalism training in developing countries with participation from South Africa and Australia, and science on radio and TV in different cultural environments.
Serious but playful
The field of science communication is expanding rapidly. One of the main purposes of the conference is to bring different professional communicators together, to discuss the development of new channels, media and arenas in order to strengthen the dialogue between the research community and surrounding society. Visualization, virtual events and how to use web 2.0 are examples of seminars dealing with interactive technology to enhance public involvement. Assessing the impact and outcomes of different actions is also crucial to improve science communication, an insight which also reflects on the programme. The conference will be somewhat different, serious but at the same time playful. In addition to giving the participants a chance to expand their network across cultures and professions and to share knowledge with colleagues from all over the world, there will be challenges of a different kind, communication assignments and dilemmas, controversial and with an ethical conflict.