Science on Social Media

Public Engagement with Science Online – Science on Social Media

An Israel Science Foundation research workshop will take place at Technion

How do we decide whether a post in our feed on the medicinal properties of turmeric is trustworthy or should be ignored? How is social media changing the way scientists interact with the general public?

Public engagement with science on social media will be the key topic at the Israel Science Foundation’s research workshop to be held at Technion on June 25-28, 2017.

In recent years, social media has expanded as a source of information and space for discussion and decision-making on various issues. This platform changes how we evaluate sources, process information, and interact with each other. Given the impact of science and technology on our lives, it is important to understand how scientific knowledge is disseminated, discussed, and interpreted on social media. The workshop will be held at Technion at the initiative of Prof. Ayelet Baram-Tsabari of the Faculty of Education in Science and Technology. Funding for the workshop was provided by the Israel Science Foundation, Technion’s Moshe Yanai Foundation, Faculty of Education in Science and Technology, Ministry of Science, and a grant from the Haifa Municipality in cooperation with the Technion.

Leading researchers in the field of science communication will participate in the workshop, including:

  1. Prof. Lloyd Spencer Davis is a scientist, media figure, and science communication researcher who founded and heads the Center for Science Communication at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He is a world-renowned scientist and researcher on penguin behavior, as well as an award-winning filmmaker and author.  Prof. Davis has won awards for both academic achievements and for his work as a writer, photographer, and filmmaker.
  2. Prof. Dominique Brossard is a leading science communication researcher, known for both her provocative views and heavy motorcycle. Prof. Brossard is the head of the Department of Life Sciences Communication at one of the world’s leading universities in this field, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on the interaction between science, media, and policy, with an emphasis on science in public controversy and technologies in the making (genome editing and genetic engineering, nanotechnology, climate change, etc.). Her research group has been focusing on scientific discourse on Twitter.
  3. Prof. Noah Weeth Feinstein of the Departments of Curriculum and Instruction, and Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison explores how people understand and use science when coping with health or environmental challenges in their private, social, and political lives. Feinstein also deals with questions of scientific literacy and the role of education and teaching in coping with climate change.
  4. Prof. Rainer Bromme of the Department of Psychology at the University of Münster, Germany, laid the psychological infrastructure for understanding public engagement in science. He is the world’s leading expert on how people evaluate the credibility and reliability of scientific content. For example, when a person sees a publication claiming that turmeric cures cancer, what are the considerations that will make him believe or dismiss the text? How should he make the decision?
  5. Prof. Bruce Lewenstein heads the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University and is a faculty member at the Department of Communication. He is one of the world’s founders of the field and devotes all of his time to research, teaching, and applications aimed at making science accessible to the public. He explores the democratic aspects of science communication (for example, citizen science and public participation in research) and changes in science coverage in the media. He is an experienced speaker who is familiar with Israel and is able to compare the accessibility of science and science communication in Israel to other countries.
  6. Prof. Massimiano Bucchi of the Department of Sociology and Social Research at the University of Trento, Italy, explores cultural-historical changes in relations between science, technology, and society and the challenges and dilemmas that affect science and technology in contemporary democracies (for example, how do readers understand infographics? What is the role of visualization in science communication?). Since 2016, Prof. Bucchi has been editor-in-chief of Public Understanding of Science, the leading journal in the field of science communication.


For the full conference program:

For the opening night program, which includes discussions on issues specific to Israel: