Education, communication, and science in the public sphere

Noah Weeth Feinstein

In the 1920s, John Dewey and Walter Lippmann both wrote important books examining whether the public was capable of playing a constructive role in policy, particularly when specialized knowledge was involved. This essay uses the Lippmann–Dewey debate to identify new challenges for science education and to explore the relationship between science education and science communication. It argues that science education can help foster democracy in ways that embody Habermas’ ideal of the public sphere, but only if we as a field pay more attention to (1) the non-scientific frames and narratives that people use to interpret news about science, (2) the “second shaping” of scientific facts by the media, and (3) emerging platforms for public engagement.

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