Science and the publics: mapping public relationship with science surveys
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In 2008 the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) collaborated in shaping a research agenda for public and science surveys, and the first task was to publish a report entitled Science and the publics: a review of public understanding of science studies (Reddy, Juan, Gastrow and Bantwini, 2009). The report reviewed a selection of theoretical and empirical contributions that have shaped the broad area of public and science research. The report popularised the notion of the many South African PublicS, highlighting the multidimensionality of society and problematising the notion of a general public. Beyond this, the 2009 document recommended that the Department of Science and Technology (DST/Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)) adopt a significant leadership role in shaping science communication directed at the public within the National System of Innovation (NSI). The recommendation was for a strategic review of communication practices, with preference being given to dialogical bi-directional public engagements rather than to former unidirectional communication practices. In the years following the 2009 Report, the critical recommendation was to enhance national science engagement policy objectives and develop relevant, reliable and high-definition data sets to support effective decision-making.