Following my last blog post about a 1yr research job in Leiden looking into relations between bio-art and science communication, more exciting scholarship news… Our neighbours the Department of Media, Cognition, and Communication at the University of Copenhagen are currently advertising a PhD scholarship in science communication with a focus on synthetic biology:
The student will work alongside Maja Horst, Sarah Davies, and Sune Holm to carry out and analyse experiments in public engagement with synthetic biology. The role would therefore be suitable for those with backgrounds in STS, science communication practice, art and design, or media studies.
Full details can be found here: http://phd.humanities.ku.dk/how_to_apply/calls/science-communication-with-a-focus-on-synthetic-biology/. The application deadline is 20th August. Those with questions about the position should contact Sarah Davies (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’m excited to have another scicom researcher in Copenhagen, and to follow the project. Science communication around synthetic biology powerfully invokes the field’s origin myth of a transition from top-down dissemination (often described in terms of Public Understanding of Science or ‘PUS’) to reciprocal public engagement (aka Public Engagement with Science and Technology or ‘PEST’)*, via an imagined ancestral line from responses to BSE, then to GM crops, and through nanoscience to synbio – at each stage, aiming (and then not quite managing) to do ‘better engagement’.
Yet, as came up in the Biohacking: Do It Yourself project here at Museion, this linear story obscures enduring and parallel motives: public communication around synthetic biology includes knowledge dissemination, DIY interventions, PR and prospective damage limitation, artistic engagements, cartoons, jokes and so on. The PhD project sounds like a great opportunity to combine research and practice, and get involved in producing a richer picture of synbio scicomm as it happens.
* See Alice Bell’s blog for a great re-telling of this story and its (acronymical) discontents