CfP: Public Understanding of Science special issue proposal on Science Communication, Public Engagement and Social Justice

Proposed editors: Dr Simon J Lock and Prof Emily Dawson, Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL 

Theme: In this special issue we will explore questions of social justice and power as they relate to science communication and public engagement with science. Specifically, we (Simon & Emily) argue that much of science communication and public engagement scholarship is still caught up in the scientistic and policy defined epistemological framings of the late 20th Century in the Global North. 

This call for papers asks for contributions to the special issue based on academic research at the intersections of science communication, public engagement and social justice practices. We encourage authors from under-represented backgrounds in the field, and from diverse regions. We encourage cross-cultural comparisons and seek critically informed research. 

We seek submissions in line with but not limited to the following lines of inquiry: 

  • How might we understand science communication if we start with concepts, models and practices from the Global South. And/Or how do science communication models from the Global North work (or not) in the Global South? 
  • How might we reimagine public engagement outside the forms of practice that:
    • Emphasize the cognitive over the affective?
    • Empirical data over lived experience?
    • Western concepts of public sphere over other forms of publics?
    • Eurocentric science over other forms of knowledge? 
  • What opportunities are afforded if we take up the challenges posed by working with non-dominant publics in ways that do not contribute to their continued oppression, but instead support a broader range of people to understand, question and contribute to science in our societies? 
  • How might centring questions of power, inequalities and the contemporary politics of social movements (including but not limited to anti-racism, crip activism, queer politics, 4th wave feminism) speak to urgent questions about how we understand both our field of research, but also how the activities therein reproduce (or potentially ameliorate) entrenched structural inequalities in our societies. 

Contribution format: Those interested in contributing please submit an informative 300 word abstract that explains the aims, approaches and tentative conclusions of the respective papers, as well as explaining how their proposed paper speaks to the special themes by the 17th of February 2023 to be considered. Please email your abstract to Simon Lock and Emily Dawson.

Please note, this CfP informs the development of a formal special issue proposal to be submitted to the Public Understanding of Science Editorial Committee, following the success of an initial proposal. As such we do not require or expect fully written drafts at this stage. Final pieces are expected to be in the range of 4000 words for essays and 8000 for research articles.