The deliberative forum pictured above was held as part of the World Wide Views on Biodiversity initiative and is an example of a “public engagement” approach to life sciences communication. Research suggests that when institutions invest in carefully designed public dialogue, such efforts can boost public trust, promote perceptions of fairness and responsiveness, and provide important feedback for experts and decision-makers.  Yet such initiatives — if not carefully conceived and planned — can present several pitfalls and trade-offs.

In a Dec. 9, 2013 talk as part of a National Academies workshop on “Sustainable Infrastructures for Life Sciences Communication,” I reviewed 20 years of research, analysis and debate over major models and approaches to science communication, discussing their advantages and trade-offs. You can watch the presentation below, download the slides, and follow up with recommended related studies and readings.