Enabling Deliberative Science Communication between Science and Non-Science Faculty Students at Xavi

Jayalakshmi Sridhar
Associate Professor
Xavier University of LA

AbstractNeeds: The recent events including the COVID pandemic the many weather disasters and the other socio-scientific issues have shown the need for a greater dialogue and deliberation between scientists and the public. Given the mistrust in science among minorities training minority students to communicate science effectively to the public will go a long way in fostering trust in the minority community. Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) is well positioned to take up the challenge of creating a league of skilled science communicators. Guided Question: Can this be achieved through skill building training at the undergraduate level? Will the incorporation of skill building activities that deal with science communication at the undergraduate level be the beginnings of a two-way communication that will lead to greater public perception and understanding of science? The strategies being used at XULA to answer these questions is to train faculty in the incorporation of science communication to the public skill building activities which are in several types of courses that are taken by science and non-science students. Outcomes: We have conducted workshops to inform our faculty on several pedagogical methods that can be used for the development of science communication skills. The skills of developing science messages to the public stakeholder mapping and the use of deliberation on socio-science issues in a classroom setting were explored. Multiple ways of assessing the student science communication skill levels were discussed in the workshop. The participants of the workshop are presently working on course module development on socio-science issues that are relevant to the course focus area through mini-grant awards. The results of our preliminary efforts in capacity building by inculcating the skill of science communication to the public in undergraduate students are presented here. Broader Impacts: Our long-term goal is to enable a two-way communication between scientists and the larger community in matters of science. The expected outcomes of this project is to build a skilled science communication student body that can help spread the understanding of science and encourage dialogue on science among the public. The short-term objective of the project is to incorporate science communication to the public skill building modules in several science and science related courses at XULA. We hope to create a dialogue on socio-science issues among science and non-science faculty and students that can transform the narrative around these issues. The key takeaway will be the framework creation for capacity building of skilled science communicators. The overarching goal is to expand the dialogue on socio-science issues to a wider community to bring a greater awareness and better perception of science not only in the minority communities in the surrounding areas but also around the nation.


Florastina Payton-Stewart Xavier University of Louisiana New Orleans; Richard Peters Xavier University of Louisiana New Orleans