Two Stellenbosch University (SU) academics Drs Bankole Falade and Marina Joubert from the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) are co-authors on two chapters in a new book on science communication released on Monday 14 September (to be launched online on Tuesday 15 September). Falade and Joubert are also part of the SA Research Chair in Science Communication hosted at SU.
Entitled 'Communicating Science. A global perspective', the book describes how public science communication has developed around the world. Comprising 40 chapters by 108 authors, it covers several diverse regions (39 countries) and cultures: advanced nations of Europe, Asia and the Americas, as well as emerging economies like Russia, Jamaica, Estonia, Iran and Pakistan.
The Nigerian chapter was written by Falade, Herbert Batta (University of Uyo) and Diran Onifade, well known for his work in television, while Joubert and Shadrack Mkansi (South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement) co-authored the chapter on South Africa.
The Nigerian chapter highlights the role of science communication in overcoming the many developmental challenges facing Nigeria in agriculture, health, industry and environment. “Nigeria is a developing economy faced with high levels of religious beliefs that may be antithetical to the spread of scientific ideas," says Falade, adding that “we need the support of governments, religious leaders, science associations and academics, institutes and civil society groups if science is to be a critical force for good." Together with Batta and Onifade, he calls for debates on reducing the cost of treatment for malaria, HIV/AIDs and other diseases. This means facing up to established practices in the pharmaceutical industry and laws that protect them.
The chapter on South Africa outlines not only how science communication has been shaped by the country's turbulent past, but also how the science communication landscape has transformed since democracy. It recognises some pioneers of science communication in South Africa and reflects on how research institutions make science more accessible to society. In the current context, the importance of indigenous knowledge systems is recognised, alongside the need to combat pseudoscience.
“Science communication in South Africa has come a long way and is increasingly recognised as a core part of the responsibility of scientists and research organisations, as well as an important research field", says Joubert. “However, we have to face and overcome many more challenges in nurturing a culture of science and scientific dialogue amongst South Africans, with many of these challenges related to making science communication more inclusive and diverse."
“Communicating Science. A Global Perspective" is available for free download at ANU Press from September 14, 2020: https://press.anu.edu.au/publications/communicating-science (hard copies will be printed on demand). The online book launch takes place on Tuesday 15 September, via Zoom, at 1-2 pm London UK time (or midday UTC/GMT). Register at: https://pcst.co/webinars/public/. The launch features five authors telling the story of their countries or regions: the USA, Pakistan, Australia, East Africa and Russia.