Communicating COVID-19: Macromedia research assistants propose a bolder Science

Which are current challenges for science communicators? Are there some opportunities to improve the way scientists communicate with their public? In the article “Communicating COVID-19: Prospects for a bolder Science?”, published in the scientific blog Elephant in the Lab, Mafalda Sandrini and Kata Katz from Macromedia University Campus Berlin discuss future scenarios for science communication and possible actions to undertake.

COVID-19 poses complex and unprecedented challenges to all, the affected public just as well as to the many actors such as politicians, local authorities, the media, public health experts, and of course scientists. Yet given that science is used to cope with the unknown, Mafalda Sandrini and Kata Katz see the role of science reinvigorated be the COVID-19 pandemic situation.  In the scientific blog Elephant in the Lab, the Macromedia University research assistants argue for a “bolder science” within society and public discourse: “Communicating COVID-19: Prospects for a bolder Science?”.

The role of science in crisis communication

In times of fierce health crisis and fears of uncertainty, public is demanding profound, transparent  and trustworthy information on causes, spread and actions to take to scope with the consequences of a worldwide pandemic. And while scientists are working tirelessly to build scenario models and find vaccine, data are changing, and, accordingly results conclusions may diverge. However, the authors claim, it is the ethical obligation of scientists to inform the public and help governments in order to avoid misinformation, that may lead to dangerous behaviors. Therefore, science should first of all become aware of its communication role and, in turn, strive to develop more constructive approaches to connect with the public.

Sharing knowledge instead of owning it

Sandrini and Katz firmly believe that platforms like iflscience, asap SCIENCE or TED Talks show good ways on how scientists can translate their expertise into effective communication on global concerns and anxieties. Adapting modern forms of communication like blogs, videos, or podcasts to communicate economic and ecological effects, social consequences, and their link to current systems and environmental crisis, science may able to find its way into popular media that are open to a broader audience. Science should leave its position on the “sidelines”, the Macromedia scientists demand, and get ready to address public segments directly to raise a public capable of abstract thinking, learning and relearning.

It’s all a question of openness, the authors conclude. Open access, open data, open source code, the openness to a real change leads to sharing knowledge instead of owning it. We agree.

About the authors:
Mafalda Sandrini is writing her PhD at the Free University in Berlin, under the Organizational Communication Division of the Institute of Media and Communication studies while working as Research Assistant at Macromedia University of Applied Sciences  Kata Katz currently works as Research Assistant for the Bachelor and Master program at Macromedia University of Applied Sciences, while working on the topic “The Genealogy of the image of the “Other” in the Medium Photography – Rethinking the relationship between Image and Spectator”.

Source: Sandrini, M., Kata, K. (2020). Communicating COVID-19: Prospects for a bolder Science? Elephant in the Lab, 27 April 2020, doi:10.5281/zenodo.3766145

Find out about our English Bachelor and Master programs here.