“What have the Romans ever done for us?” John Cleese’s famous line from Monty Python’s Life of Brian is a question that has resonated with me over the last couple of weeks.
Back came the answer, “The aqueduct.”
“Oh, yeah, yeah. They did give us that.”
“And there’s sanitation…”
You get the picture.
Why, you may ask, is Monty Python featuring on the Open University’s Engaging Research blog? You can thank the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology. They recently called for evidence to be submitted to an inquiry into science communication. In effect, they asked “What has science communication ever done for us?”
Over the past week I’ve worked with colleagues from three organisations to respond to this call for evidence: AsSIST-UK the UK national professional association for social studies of science and technology; the UK-based research network, Science in Public; and the international Public Communication of Science and Technology Network (PCST).
By selecting the following links, you can read:
- The joint submission we made to the Select Committee Inquiry, which was written by Angela Cassidy, James Wilsdon, Brian Trench and me.
- A post I wrote about the joint submission for the Guardian Science Policy blog, which explores what science communication (and engagement) have done for us.
Ultimately, I’d argue that science communication research and practice has sought to move us towards a more pluralistic research culture where different stakeholders have a say in how priorities are framed, how research is practiced and governed, and how the findings from research are shared. This process of culture change is far from complete. It requires leadership, courage, vision from the top down to the bottom up. My hope is that the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology Inquiry into science communication offers another progressive step along this road.