• Science communication climbs Latin American agenda

    Luisa Massarani


[RIO DE JANEIRO] Science communication experts in Latin America have been giving their input into a new regional science and technology policy that aims to put 'science popularisation' high up the scientific agenda.

The Organisation of American States (OAS), which brings together leaders from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean, last year agreed to make science communication one of four top-priority areas in its new regional science policy.

At a meeting earlier this month in Rio de Janeiro, about 50 science communication experts from 11 countries had a chance to shape the development of the policy.

They called for science communication efforts to be expanded to include more of the population, and urged for more training in science communication. They also talked of the need to strengthen the interface between formal and informal education, and to support policies with a national and multinational perspective.

"In addition to bringing together key experts from several countries from the Americas, this meeting has a symbolic role," says Alfredo Tolmasquin, director of the Rio-based Museum of Astronomy and Related Sciences, which hosted the event. "It is the first time that the OAS has included science popularisation as a big issue that deserves attention."

Speaking at the meeting, Eduardo Krieger, president of the Brazilian Academy of Science, stressed that science communication is hugely important for society – even if its benefits are not immediately apparent.

He called on scientists to actively engage in science communication, lamenting that "some sectors of the scientific community create barriers to popularising science, as they believe that it has nothing to do with science, and thus do not want to get involved."

The proposals made at the meeting will feed into the First Hemispheric Meeting of Ministers and High Officials in Science and Technology, to be held in November, where details of the policy will be finalised.