Created by the Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts, and specifically designed for science centers and museums, this guide describes a model for creating conversations among publics and scientists for mutual learning and societal decision-making. This model, termed "public engagement with science events," includes two formats:
- Hands-on activities that include a discussion of societal and environmental impacts; personal, community, and societal values; and institutional priorities and public policy
- Forums for dialogue and deliberation that are small-group discussions of a policy-related socio-scientific question, which can be modified to provide policymakers with public input for governmental or institutional decision-making.
The strategies outlined throughout the guide are the product of years of lessons learned over the course of various National Science Foundation-funded projects, including the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (2005), Dimension of Public Engagement with Science (2010), and the more recent grant that supported this guide's development, Multi-Site Public Engagement with Science-Synthetic Biology (2014).
How to Use
This is an excellent guide for science center and museum staff just getting started with Dialogue & Deliberation. It provides advice for all steps of a successful public-engagement forum or activity from the planning and design stage all the way through evaluation and dissemination of outcomes. The guide also contains ready-to-use public-engagement tools and many examples of successful forums that could serve as inspiration.
Chapter 1 provides a coherent case for the importance of public engagement with science, and thus could be useful for employees who want to make the case for hosting this kind of programming at their institutions. Chapter 3 provides a framework for spelling out the goals of your program and tailoring it to best achieve those aims, while Chapter 4 goes into detail about planning and facilitating hands-on and conversational activities.
The guide can also be useful for more experienced public-engagement practitioners who wish to evaluate the impact of their programs or disseminate information about their outcomes. Chapter 5 contains resources, advice, and examples for effectively evaluating public-engagement outcomes. Chapter 6 provides information about methods for disseminating work to colleagues, scientists, policymakers, and the public.
You can also explore the Public Engagement with Science Forum Archives, which provides resources for running forums on specific topics like self-driving cars and genome editing. as well as resources specific to the Building with Biology forums (synthetic biology).