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FF1.03 - Engaging the Public in Constructive Conversations about the Future of Technology 
December 1, 2014   9:00am - 9:30am

Public outreach is often framed as a process of developing lesson plans with an aim of convincing the public to believe a series of facts and/or accept a specific viewpoint. These one-way patterns of communication, however, frequently fall short in at least two important ways. First, the public has many sources of information so getting the attention of a number of people is difficult. And second, the organizations that put together such programs are missing a major source of information that could help them to achieve their goals. Over the past several years museum professionals with the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net) and scholars at Arizona State University’s Center for Nanotechnology in Society have been developing techniques that go beyond this “linear model.” These techniques enable two way conversations in which members of the public learn about scientific achievements in a specific area and then build their own ideas of what they think a better future would like with them. What we have found is that the visitors to science museums in the United States are not only able to participate in constructive conversations, but that they are hungry for them. This talk will outline some of the lessons learned through this partnership and offer suggestions for how they can be implemented in other spheres.

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