originally published May 23, 2007 by Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
There’s not a one size fits all approach to getting a message across that resonates with the public and policymakers. The idea is to ‘Frame Science’ in a language that turns people on with the goal of engaging a targeted audience to think and care about a critical issue. The magic recipe is in finding the right “Frame” that fits.
As scientists, our first step is choosing content carefully and presenting it from a united academic stance. Too often we are at odds over the nuances of one concept. We have been trained to be critical, seeking the holes in others’ research by pointing out unanswered questions. I continue to believe this is extremely important in science. However, it becomes counterproductive toward implementing legislation based on the best science available because we undermine our efforts with mixed messages. In the policy realm, academic disparity emphasizes uncertainty. It’s a wholly different culture so different rules apply. Scientists must adapt and evolve to the political environment [paging Randy Olson!] to have the impact we aspire to achieve.
Science – and the vehicle used to to translate our messages – must be framed strategically. On that note, communication is in itself an art form generally not required in the pursuit of a PhD. (Perhaps it ought to be?) Words and approach should be chosen with care and consistancy. After all, this “Frame” has relevance in your home – our world.
That said, stay tuned.. As promised, cuddly marine mammals are next.