One of the key topics relating to the public understanding of science is public engagement. The field has moved from research into public understanding to research into public engagement. This Special Issue looks at 20 years of public engagement activities and research. The papers of hindsight and reflections on the future, gather key voices of the debate.
Special Issue: Public Engagement in Science:
Jack Stilgoe, Simon J. Lock, and James Wilsdon
Why should we promote public engagement with science?
Public Understanding of Science January 2014 23: 4-15, doi:10.1177/0963662513518154
This introductory essay looks back on the two decades since the journal Public Understanding of Science was launched. Drawing on the invited commentaries in this special issue, we can see narratives of continuity and change around the practice and politics of public engagement with science. Public engagement would seem to be a necessary but insufficient part of opening up science and its governance. Those of us who have been involved in advocating, conducting and evaluating public engagement practice could be accused of over-promising. If we, as social scientists, are going to continue a normative commitment to the idea of public engagement, we should therefore develop new lines of argument and analysis. Our support for the idea of public engagement needs qualifying, as part of a broader, more ambitious interest in the idea of publicly engaged science.