20 December 2018

By Marina Joubert

There are specific factors in South Africa, linked to the country’s politics, cultural composition, bio-physical environment and socio-economic challenges, which compel scientists towards engaging with external audiences. Dr Marina Joubert explored these factors in her doctoral research on the factors that influence scientists’ public engagement behaviour. They are discussed in a new paper published in JCOM, an open-access science communication journal; see https://doi.org/10.22323/2.17040304

For visible scientists in South Africa, their participation in public science engagement frequently has political roots, Dr Joubert explains. They see democratisation of science as a priority, and view policy makers as a key audience. Furthermore, scientists who work in fields that they perceive to have been constrained before, particularly value the freedom to communicate in the new, democratic South Africa. Confronted by the hardships suffered by millions of fellow South Africans, many local scientists feel morally obliged to reach out to communities and to help create a more equitable society. Despite lucrative opportunities to work in other countries, some top scientists in South Africa are committed to work here because of the country’s dynamics and pressing challenges.