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Open Access Cardiff sciSCREEN: A model for using film screenings to engage publics in university research

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Cardiff sciSCREEN is a public engagement programme that brings together local experts and publics to discuss issues raised by contemporary cinema. Since 2010, Cardiff sciSCREEN (short for science on screen) has exhibited more than 50 films alongside short talks and discussions that draw on a range of disciplinary perspectives to explore the broad repertoire of themes found within different film genres. The aim of Cardiff sciSCREEN is to increase the local community's access to university research, while enabling university staff and students to engage a variety of publics with their work. In this paper, we first describe our method of public engagement, and then draw on data from a research survey we administered to sciSCREENers to discuss the relationship between the theory and practice of public engagement. Using research from public understanding of science (PUS), public engagement with science and technology (PEST), science and technology studies (STS) and film literacy, we discuss the ways in which our flexible characterization of science has made the programme inclusive, attracting a wide and varied audience. We consider the benefits of cross-disciplinary perspectives when communicating and engaging contemporary developments in science, where the term 'science' is taken to stand for the breadth of academic research and not merely the natural sciences, as well as discussing the importance of space in public engagement events.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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  • Research for All is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on research that involves universities and communities, services or industries working together. Contributors and readers are from both inside and outside of higher education. They include researchers, policymakers, managers, practitioners, community-based organizations, schools, businesses and the intermediaries who bring these people together. The journal highlights the potential in active public engagement for robust academic study, for the development of involved communities, and for the impact of research. It explores engagement with different groups and their cultures, and features theoretical and empirical analysis alongside authoritative commentary to explore a range of themes that are key to engaged research including the development of reciprocal relationships, sector-specific communication and participatory action research. The journal is co-sponsored by the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

    Research for All is supporting the 16th International conference for Public Communication of Science and Technology being held in Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, 26–28 May 2020. Authors of contributions presented at the conference are invited subsequently to submit papers to Research for All for a special feature on Public Communication of Science and Technology.

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