The palaeontological exhibition: A venue for dialogue

Sandra Murriello

Understanding the dialogue between museums and their visitors enables museums to subsist, undergo transformations and become consolidated as socially valued cultural venues. The Museo de La Plata (Argentina) was created in the late nineteenth century as a natural history museum, and this study shows that currently the museum is valued socially as a venue for family leisure and education, at which people make sense to the objects exhibited through characteristics conferred upon them by both the institution and the visitor. Nevertheless, such dialogue is somehow affected by the museographic proposal and the public interpretation of the institutional narrative, which could be analysed within the frame of contextual learning. As a consequence, the evolutionary idea that the museum aims to communicate is distorted by the public. This article highlights the importance of considering the visitors’ interpretations when planning museum exhibitions, a perspective that has been rather absent in the Argentinian museums.


(Re)acting medicine: applying theatre in order to develop a whole-systems approach to understanding the healing response

S. Goldingay, P. Dieppe, M. Mangan & D. Marsden

This critical reflection is based on the belief that creative practitioners should be using their own well-established approaches to trouble dominant paradigms in health and care provision to both form and inform the future of healing provision and well-being creation. It describes work by a transdisciplinary team (drama and medicine) that is developing a methodology which is rooted in productive difference; an evolving synergy between two cultural and intellectual traditions with significant divergences in their world-view perceptions, approaches and training methods. This commonality is underpinned by four assumptions that: (1) human-to-human interactions matter, (2) context matters, (3) the whole person and their community matters and (4) interpretation matters. In this paper, we reflect on the project’s early stages and uses of this methodology to investigate the fundamental human-to-human interaction of a person seeking healing (a healee) with a healer. We believe that this interaction enables the healing response – the intrinsic ability of the human organism to self-heal and regain homeostasis.


Public relations as science communication

Matt Shipman

Public communication from research institutions often functions as both science communication and public relations. And while these are distinct functions, public relations efforts often serve as science communication tools. This is because successful science communication and public relations efforts for research institutions both rely on finding shared language and disseminating findings in context.


Public Engagement with Biotechnologies Offers Lessons for the Governance of Geoengineering Research and Beyond

Jack Stilgoe, Matthew Watso and Kirsty Kuo

In this paper, we reflect on our involvement in one of the first major research projects in the emerging area of geoengineering (the deliberate intervention in the planetary climate). The project, Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE), proposed an outdoor experiment that attracted substantial public scrutiny despite a strong consensus that the experiment posed no direct environmental risk. A programme of stakeholder engagement took place that sought a deep understanding of the views about the proposed experiment. The lessons from this experiment build on insights from public engagement with the biosciences and biotechnology. In particular, we see the importance of questions of context and purpose for scientific research. This has important implications for the governance of geoengineering research. Efforts to detach areas of research from public scrutiny by using thresholds, whether these are drawn at a particular level of environmental effect or at the doors of a laboratory, will encounter problems of public credibility. Geoengineering is unavoidably entangled in a political discussion that scientists should seek to understand and engage with.