The Science of Science Communication

May 21-22, 2012
National Academy of Sciences
Washington, DC


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Day 1


- Welcome: Barbara Schaal, Vice President, National Academy of Sciences

- The Micro View: Individual Responses in Science Communication, Baruch Fischhoff, Carnegie Mellon University

- The Macro View: Social Dynamics in Science Communication, Dietram Scheufele, University of Wisconsin, Madison


Emerging Technologies and Their Likely Impacts on Lay Publics Moderator and Respondent:

Miles O’Brien, Science Correspondent, PBS Newshour

- Nuclear Power and Other Site Selection Issues, Eric Loewen, American

- Agricultural Biotechnology, David Fischhoff, Monsanto Company

- Nanotechnology, Vicky Colvin, Rice University

- Geoengineering, David Keith, Harvard University

- Introduction:

Alan Leshner, Chief Executive Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science

- Why We Can’t Trust Our Intuitions: Communication as a Science,

Arthur Lupia, University of Michigan


What Do People Need to Know about Science?

- The Content of Scientific Communication: Identifying the Scientific Knowledge that Is Most Relevant to Personal and Policy Decisions,

Detlof von Winterfeldt, University of Southern California

- Personal Beliefs: How People Perceive Scientific Facts and Issues,

Wändi Bruine de Bruin, Carnegie Mellon University

- Trust in Scientists, Controversy Among Scientists, and American Public Opinion on Climate Change: How Attitude Formation and Change Unfolds,

Jon Krosnick, Stanford University Discussion

Developing Strategies for Effective and Trustworthy Communication

- Generating the Science Needed for Relevant Communication: How Can Social, Behavioral, and Decision Research Extract the Information that the Public Needs Most from the Wealth of Scientific Knowledge?

Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin, Dartmouth Medical School

- What Do We Mean?: On the Importance of Not Abandoning Scientific Rigor When Talking about Science Education

David Klahr, Carnegie Mellon University

- The Science of Citizen Participation: What Are the Best Ways to Engage in Two-Way Communication with Those Concerned About Science-Related Issues?

Tom Dietz, Michigan State University

Introduction by Ralph J. Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences

- Thinking We Know, Daniel Kahneman, Princeton University

Day 2


Communication Dynamics in Socio-Political Contexts – How Science Is Presented and Understood in Modern Mass Cultures 

- Effects of Mass Media on the Political Process: How Do Mass Media Shape the Nature of Public Debates About Science?,

Matthew C. Nisbet, American University

- Effects of Mass Media on Knowledge and Beliefs: How Do Mass Media (Across Different Channels and Content) Influence the Public?,

William P. Eveland, Ohio State University

- New Media Landscapes: Where Do People Go for Information About Science and How Do They Evaluate What They Find?,

Dominique Brossard, University of Wisconsin, Madison 

Moderator: Ralph Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences

John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, 2008-present

Neal Lane, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, 1998-2000

John H. Gibbons, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, 1993-1998

Frank Press, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, 1977-1980

Introduction, Alan Leshner, Chief Executive Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Lost in Translation? Journalists as Conduits Between Science and the Public, David Pogue, New York Times/NOVA



Developing Organizational Infrastructures for Evidence-Based Communication about Science

- Institutional Constraints and Incentives: What Factors Determine When Scientists Act as Communicators and How They Succeed?,

Hans-Peter Peters, Research Center Jülich

- Building Organizational Infrastructures for Effective Communication: What Have We Learned from Experiences in the Corporate, Governmental, and Academic Worlds?,

Ed Maibach, George Mason University

- Communication as an Empirical Endeavor: Why Is Systematic Evaluation So Rare and How Can We Make It the Norm?,

Martin Storksdieck, National Research Council 

Moderated by Alan Leshner, American Association for the Advancement of Science

- The Science & Entertainment Exchange: Fast Forward, Barbara Kline Pope, National Academy of Sciences

- Science Communication as the “New Political Science” for Democracy, Dan M. Kahan, Yale Law School

- Risk Communication and Risky Decision Making: From Viruses to Vaccines, Valerie Reyna, Cornell University

- The National Partnership for Climate Communication, Anthony Leiserowitz, Yale University

- Respondents:
Michael Crow, Arizona State University
Paula S. Apsell, PBS/NOVA


The Science of Science Communication

Organized by Ralph Cicerone, Baruch Fischhoff, Alan Leshner, Barbara Schaal and Dietram Scheufele


This colloquium will survey the state of the art of empirical social science research in science communication and will focus on research in psychology, decision science, mass communication, risk communication, health communication, political science, sociology, and related fields on the communication dynamics surrounding issues in science, engineering, technology, and medicine with five distinct goals:

  • To improve understanding of relations between the scientific community and the public

  • To assess the scientific basis for effective communication about science

  • To strengthen ties among and between communication scientists

  • To promote greater integration of the disciplines and approaches pertaining to effective communication

  • To foster an institutional commitment to evidence-based communication science



Registration for this meeting is full but due to the high interest, the organizers are making plans to webcast the talks. If you would like to receive information about viewing the webcasts, please enter your information using this link -

Recording and Publication

Talks will be recorded and made available (with permission from each speaker) online shortly after the colloquium. The organizers are planning a special collection of papers based on the colloquium to be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lodging and Transportation

The room block for this meeting has filled.

National Academy of Sciences

This colloquium will be held at the historic National Academy of Sciences building, located at 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC.


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