14 September 2020

A new book ‘Communicating Science. A global perspective’ will be released on Monday 14 September 2020, and is available for free in PDF format.

The book encapsulates the first study describing how public science communication has developed around the world. It covers several diverse regions and cultures: advanced nations of Europe, Asia and the Americas, as well as emerging economies like Russia, Jamaica, Estonia, Iran and Pakistan. The book has 40 chapters, 108 authors, and covers 39 countries – adding up to 996 pages. (The book will be free in PDF format – see below.)

Two Stellenbosch academics at CREST are co-authors on two chapters. The Nigerian chapter was written by Dr Bankole Falade (Stellenbosch University), Herbert Batta (University of Uyo) and Diran Onifade, well known for his work in television. The chapter on South Africa was co-authored by Dr Marina Joubert (Stellenbosch University) and Shadrack Mkansi (South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement). Both Falade and Joubert are part of the SA Research Chair in Science Communication, hosted at Stellenbosch University.

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,” Dr Falade says. “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.” The authors called 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”, Dr Joubert says. “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 14 September 2020 (hard copies will be printed on demand).

Enquiries: Dr Bankole Falade (bfalade@sun.ac.za); Dr Marina Joubert (marinajoubert@sun.ac.za)