Breaking new ground in science communication

Japhet Bakuwa is the most recent PhD student to Crest to focus his research on science communication

Japhet Bakuwa is the most recent PhD student to Crest to focus his research on science communication

Stellenbosch University is launching Africa’s first online course in the public communication of science and technology at its Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (Crest). 

The course, commencing on January 19 2015 and presented over six weeks, is designed for people who work at the interface between science and society — especially those who must make science and research outcomes accessible and relevant to policymakers and public audiences.

People who are likely to benefit from the course include research managers and communication staff working at universities, science councils, government departments and statutory bodies, research funding agencies, industry organisations and NGOs, as well as communication and outreach staff of museums, science centres, zoos and aquaria, for example. 

The course has a specific focus on the challenges of science communicators working in developing-world contexts. Please visit www.sun.ac.za/crest for a link to a course brochure and the online application form. Applications close on November 30 2014.

Japhet Bakuwa is the most recent PhD student at Crest to focus his research on science communication. He is in the final stages of his thesis titled “Public understanding of global climate change in Malawi: An investigation of factors influencing perceptions, attitudes and beliefs about global climate change”.

He says: “We often blame the public for their lack of understanding or misunderstanding of scientific issues such as climate change. However, we also need to realise that scientists and science communicators own a fair share of the problem — they lack understanding of the public and their social context. 

“In the context of Africa, effective communication of scientific issues would demand that science communicators understand the contextual issues that influence how the public engage with and make sense of scientific issues,” says Bakuwa.

Call for applications for postdoctoral fellows

in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, hosted by Crest at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, invites applications for four postdoctoral fellowships in scientometrics/bibliometrics; science, technology and innovation studies; and research evaluation. The fellowships will commence in January 2015. 

The initial fellowship is for two years and renewable for subsequent term of two years. Applications are open to anyone who has completed a PhD in the last five years. A degree in information science, bibliometrics, econometrics or mathematical statistics will serve as a recommendation. 

Postdoctoral applicants must send a letter of application and a comprehensive curriculum vitae, including a list of publications and the names and contact details of at least two referees, to Marthie van Niekerk at [email protected]. Applicants should request their referees to forward a confidential report on the applicant directly to the same email address. The closing date for applications, as well as referees’ reports, is November 30 2014.