Public engagement as rhetoric, persuasion as practice

Hans Peter Peters


More than two decades ago the Public Engagement with Science and Technology (PEST) paradigm gained influence in the field of science communication, marked by the publication of the third report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology in the year 2000. The approach advocated in the report went beyond the traditional Public Understanding of Science (PUS) paradigm that had focused on sharing scientific knowledge with broader publics via top-down dissemination. It assigned citizens a more active and powerful role vis a vis science, emphasized the need for participatory discourses aiming at a shared understanding with non-scientific publics, and acknowledged both citizens’ democratic rights regarding science-related decisions and their potential constructive contributions in the creation of socially relevant knowledge.

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