Science Communication: a dire need for national progress

Science Communication is an emerging area of practice and research. In last two decades, the number of happenings, courses, and specialists has gradually swelled, which is boosting scientific development.

Science CommunicationBut the question arises that what actually is Science Communication? And, in how and what many ways it is different from public awareness of science, public understanding of science, scientific culture and scientific literacy?

On one hand, Science Communication is about communicating science and bridges the gap between people and scientific research. While, on the other hand, Science Communication can do more than just communicating science.

It is engaged in developing science policies at government level, understanding the relationship of scientists and public, shaping science related stories for mass media, and engaging people with science to learn and enjoy.

If we specifically talk about the popular science media in Pakistan, they do not exist much in the country. There is scarcity of science communicators or journalists in Pakistan. Academia and media houses are producing thousands of journalists in every field but unfortunately not in the field of science.

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Science communicators or journalists are extremely important to stimulate government decisions, policy and funding related to economic growth. In turn, this can have an important influence not only on scientific progress but overall progress of the country.

Popular science media history in Pakistan

Since 1970’s there was several popular science media in Pakistan. This include ‘Science Digest’, ‘Amli Science’ magazine, and weekly science editions in different English and Urdu dailies. Later, in 1990’s the Global Science magazine contributed its part. It was time, when Prof. Laeeq Ahmed Khan started his famous ‘Science Magazine’ and ‘Kyun aur Kesay’ series.

In 1973, just because of science diplomacy, the Apollo 17 mission landed in Pakistan. It was not a leisure visit of Apollo mission, it was for science popularization in Pakistan. It was time, when, science does exist on the priorities of government, in return it flourished.

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The problem

Today, this situation is reverse. Science and technology are absolutely out of government priorities, so that, one can hardly find any popular science program on electronic or print media. One of the main reasons behind this is lack of trained scientists who can communicate the worth of their work.

Science and society are compulsory to each other and it is no doubt that revolution in science and technologies had a great impact on society and have effect on future progress as well.

Scientists have a moral compulsion to the public to produce accurate, logical, timely information. Scientists are bound to communicate with the public with information what they really need, and what public want and use it for development of society.

The solution

For solution of this problem, universities and colleges need to play their part actively by training scientists about how to communicate their work to the lay-person. Same as, for students there should be an opportunity to learn science communication to communicate their research to the public.

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In Pakistan, not a single university offer courses in science communication which leads to the problem of not having understanding of science. When there is no science understanding one will not be able to get grants and funds for the research which is a largely spread problem itself.

It is time to build a collective groundwork between science and society. To achieve this, all characters of the society like scientists, policy makers, and academicians have to look artistically for new ways to transform science for social development. It is important to make some science–society alliance for contributing in continuing deliberations for emerging technologies.

Hina Baloch
Author: Hina Baloch

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