Astronomy Engagement with Diverse Publics
Salman Hameed, Director of the Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies, Hapshire College
About the Workshop
Monday, January 8, 2018
231st American Astronomical Society Meeting
An individual's worldview, including their religious beliefs and cultural background, informs their perceptions of research studies and the scientific endeavor as a whole. According to a 2015 Pew survey, a majority of the American public identifies as religious or spiritual, and views science as "often in conflict" with religion. These divides are detrimental for all concerned, as a presumption that scientists hold different worldviews (including backgrounds, values, and priorities) than non-academic public(s) can impact their perceived trustworthiness and credibility on critical issues at the interface of science and society. Accordingly, effective public engagement can have a tremendous impact on public appreciation and support for scientific research, funding, education, and science-informed policy, and potentially contribute to the development of new collaborations and research directions.
This workshop was part of an effort to support the membership of five prominent physical and life science societies (including the AGU and SfN) in constructive dialogue with a broad spectrum of publics, and particularly with religious communities. Participants reviewed tools, strategies, and examples for engagement with diverse audiences, that they may become more effective advocates for astronomy and for science as a whole. The workshop included remarks by astronomer and science communicator Salman Hameed, as well as discussions and exercises on conveying scientific concepts with clarity and sensitivity to different worldviews.