How Does Neuroethics Intersect with Neuroscience Public Engagement?
|Image courtesy of Pixabay
Given the emerging common interest in neuroscience and society across disciplines, the (U.S.) National Informal STEM Education (NISE) Network, in partnership with The Kavli Foundation and the Neuroethics Workgroup of the International Brain Initiative, conducted a series of interviews with neuroscientists, neuroethicists, patient advocates, and educators to characterize the global landscape of neuroscience public engagement efforts with connections to fundamental questions in neuroethics (Global Neuroethics Summit Delegates et al., 2018). For this search, we narrowed our parameters to neuroscience public engagement projects with the potential for two-way interaction between experts and public audiences. After almost 50 interviews, five categories of engagement styles emerged that are broadly representative of the current landscape of neuroscience public engagement connected with neuroethics. Characteristic activities of each category shared similar goals as described below.
Structured assessment of public
opinions & attitudes
Interviews and surveys
Online comment analysis
To obtain a generalizable understanding of community- or population-level
attitudes that can help define cultural context and societal values about a
Interactive exhibits, public
programs & informal STEM learning
Exhibitions, often employing
multisensory interactivity, new technologies, social engagement, physicality,
Public programs such as summer
camps, after-school programs, science festivals, or other facilitated
learning programs outside of school
To create fun, social learning
experiences that spark interest and motivation in participants, while
contributing to a personal identity of knowing about and using STEM
Inspirational media through
partnerships with artists
Artistic interpretations of
science, shared in a public forum
Narrative performance, e.g.
theatre, film, or radio, bringing together art
To channel imagination into
expression, visualize the unseen in science, or verbalize unspoken emotions,
through creative work
Expert discussions for public
The inherent one-to-many style of
interaction limits the potential for meaningful dialogue
Possibility of perpetuating the
deficit model of science communication
To bring together experts,
representing different perspectives of multiple disciplines, to discuss a
particular topic in front of a public audience
Partnerships for clinical
Cultural divides between
biomedical research and patient groups can impede collaboration
Traditional cultural stigmas,
especially with respect to mental illness, can be hard to overcome
To bring researchers, medical
professionals, patients, and advocates together to shape research priorities,
improve participation and health outcomes, and change public attitudes
|Image courtesy of Pixabay
Leading the opportunities, we observed a strong desire for more collaboration among neuroscientists, neuroethicists, and experts in other fields such as communications, survey methodology, public engagement, the arts, and evaluation and learning research. This enthusiasm for an interdisciplinary approach to public engagement can be the spark for a new, international network of practice that can effectively convene researchers and diverse audiences, with both public and professional impacts. A broad network could also leverage community and regional values to implement more culturally responsive public engagement.
- Das, J., Kollmann, E.K., Porcello, D., Ostman, R. & Bell, L. (2018). Public engagement with neuroscience and society: Conference report and vision for a national informal neuroscience education initiative. Philadelphia, PA: The Franklin Institute.
- Global Neuroethics Summit Delegates, Rommelfanger K.S., Jeong,S.J., Ema,A., Fukushi,T., Kasai,K., Ramos,K.M., Salles,A., Singh,I. (2018). Neuroethics questions to guide ethical research in the international brain initiatives. Neuron, 100:19-36.
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