The latest edition of the Journal of Science Communication is up, and I’m in it.
I was asked to discuss the question ‘does science communication deserve special attention as an academic discipline?’ Read my contribution, and you’ll see I don’t really answer the question. Or rather I answer with a simple negative and then, um… spin that out for a few pages with a long list of references. Susanna Hornig Priest’s contribution is much better. Read that instead.
Something Hornig Priest refers to is the difference between inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary work (or, the difference between connecting disciplines and mixing them). I think this sort of awareness of discipline is something shared by everyone involved in science communication. As I argue in my contribution, for me science communication is less a community of researchers, and more a space where we deal with the fact such communities of research exist. It is a consequence of the spaces left between fragmented expertise, a weird by-product of modernity. So, I refused to answer JCom’s question properly not just out of petulance, but because I feel more like someone who works in the spaces between academic disciplines than one desiring of building their own.
This middle ground is not always an easy place to reside, but an awareness of this unease is part of how I think science communication scholars can be useful; as we examine, reflect, debate and help others manage the clashes between communities of knowledge. As such, I think it necessarily involves a fair bit of both multi and inter-disciplinary work, as well as a strong awareness (I’d personally add, involvement) with practitioners and audiences. This does also mean you spend most of your life ignorant of most of what you are looking at. You feel constantly stupid (but in exchange you get to see loads of different amazing things).
It’s not for everyone and nor should it be, but it’s where I work.