Conversations in Science Series
A program conceived and organized by the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with the collaboration of the Madison Metropolitan School District
and the Edgewood Sonderegger Science Center

Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 4:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Sonderegger Science Center (Click here for parking information)
1000 Edgewood College Drive Madison, Wisconsin

Professor Dietram Scheufele
Department of Life Sciences Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison

“The ‘Science’ of Communicating Science:
New Approaches to Bridging the Science-Public Divide”

The Conversations in Science Series brings together UW-Madison researchers and Dane County teachers in order to foster significant connections. Now in its 10th year, the Series is designed to provide personal enrichment to teachers in a wide range of areas related to science, technology and society, and to enable researchers and educators to share their expertise with the Dane County community.


Modern democracies have long been faced with difficulties in communicating science, engineering and medicine to the general public. This problem received renewed attention from policymakers and academics in recent years, given the fact that issues, such as stem cell research, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology, have increasingly merged the realms of science and politics. More competitive funding environments and political opposition to specific areas of research have further exacerbated the need for building public support for science and for better communication about emerging technologies.

This conversation is designed to answer some of the key questions about how to close what seem to be widening rifts between science and the public. How can we establish sustainable channels of communication, for instance, between science and the public, especially as issues like global warming, nanotechnology, regenerative medicine, and agricultural biotechnology are increasingly blurring the lines between science, society and politics? And how do citizens make sense of the ethical, legal, and social challenges that come with the rapid scientific development in areas like synthetic biology?


Dietram A. Scheufele is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at UW-Madison, with affiliate appointments in Science and Technology Studies, Journalism & Mass Communication, and European Studies. He is Wisconsin PI and co-leader of the Public Opinion and Values Research Team for the NSF-funded Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University (CNS-ASU). Scheufele is a former member of the Nanotechnology Technical Advisory Group to the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and currently serves on the National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists, a joint committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Bar Association. Scheufele's professional experience includes consulting work for Fallon Worldwide, the Public Broadcasting System, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank. Prior to joining UW, he was a tenured faculty member at Cornell University.



Nisbet, M. C., & Scheufele, D. A. (2007). The future of public engagement. The Scientist, 21(10), 38-44.
(Subscriber login required to view.)

Penn, M. (2008). A failure to communicate: Professor Dietram Scheufele says scientists often aren't connecting with the public about the value of their work. And that's not good news. Grow Magazine. Retrieved August 13, 2009.

Scheufele, D. A. (2006). Messages and heuristics: How audiences form attitudes about emerging technologies. In J. Turney (Ed.), Engaging science: Thoughts, deeds, analysis and action (pp. 20-25). London: The Wellcome Trust.

Scheufele, D. A., Brossard, D., Dunwoody, S., Corley, E. A., Guston, D. H., & Peters, H. P. (2009). Are scientists really out of touch? The Scientist. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
(Free registration required to view.)


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