Only shared knowledge is relevant!

Scientific Citizenship: Inclusion and participation, exchange and the same level of information:  communicating pipes (c) Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Citizenship: Inclusion and participation, exchange and the same level of information: communicating pipes (c) Wikimedia Commons

This headline is the categorical imperative for science, society AND science journalists; they are the ones who manage the vertical and horizontal flow of communication and, above all, tie in the citizenry.

The title of this contribution to European Science Journalists is derived from the Spanish phrase “todo lo que sabemos lo sabemos entre todos”; literally it could be translated like “all that we know is what we share among us”. It’s a pledge for a  p a r t i c i p a t i v e   k n o w l e d g e  c u l t u r e , in other words:

Academic truth only becomes public truth and public domain if we all share new research, facts, hypotheses, communicate them troughout our societies, top down and bottom up, left and right, have ALL stake holders pitch in, including tax payers, voters, consumers and the whole array of civil society organizations and NGOs.

To facilitate matters and make the principle more visible and stick the “communicating pipes” might help. This is a basic principle in physics and observes: In a system of pipes which are connected and filled with water it always reaches in every pipe the very same water level.

To give this another spin: During the past years the expression “shared economy” has become a standard term. It sheds light on the custom that people increasingly share property, i.e. cars, apartments, tools and food, thus saving resources and contributing to more interaction, less consumption, an overall sustainable new economy.

We owe the phrase about “participative and shared knowledge” to DANIEL HERMELÍN BRAVO, professor for science and technology communication at the Eafit University in Medellín, Colombia. He quoted a participant of an Eafit conference and closed with this citation a thoughtful academic essay about science and technology and the Eurocentric heritage of Latin America and his native country.

Daniel Hermelin Bravo (left): researcher ofeuroanglo centered science and advocate of a democratic model of science and science communication (c) EAFIT

Daniel Hermelin Bravo (left): researcher ofeuroanglo centered science and advocate of a democratic model of science and science communication (c) EAFIT

In his voyage from the beginning of academic thinking in Ancient Greece, through Renaissance, Enlightenment, Industrialization until the 21st century the author comes to a central statement: That Galileo’s heliocentric cosmic view fundamentally changed human thinking. Man escapes religion’s gravity and for the first time in evolution starts to think for himself with scientific methods.

This ignited an intellectual Bing Bang which created basic inventions and consequently our modern society and which keeps expanding with seemingly increasing speed. Furthermore, over the past centuries science and technology have become deeply interwoven with the economic and political drive of the Occident and irreversibly penetrated cultures all over the globe.

However, as Hermelin nails down with a series of examples, the expansion has been “linear and unidirectional”. It has transformed into an ideological movement with an angloeuropean focus causing friction in the New World. It has served the old elites, preserved the traditional hegemonial power structure and, all in all, turns out to be “asymmetrical” and, above all “in deficit”, as the entire model has been labeled also by its western critics.

The Colombian’s essay is a plea for a DEMOCRATIC model with participative and collaborative, inclusive and deliberative elements. Not only science communication, but also science journalism can make the difference to reach and accomplish this. By tradition and definition — also a result of Enlightenment and the scientific revolution — journalism is devoted to the concerns of the people.

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Links:

Daniel Hermelin: Un context para la comunicaciónde la ciencia y la tecnología en Colombia: de las herencias eurocéntricas a los modelos para la acción, Co-herencia, vol. 8, núm14, enero-junio, 2011, pp. 231-260, Universidad EAFIT, Colombia ->
http://www.redalyc.org/pdf/774/77420067010.pdf

Hermelín@Eafit ->
http://www.eafit.edu.co/foro-taller-ascti/H%20V%20Daniel%20Hermelin.html

 

About Wolfgang C. Goede

Wolfgang C. Goede is a science journalist based in Munich, Germany, board member of the German Association of Science Writers TELI, Honorary Secretary of the European Science Journalists' Associations EUSJA