We conduct research into issues in science and society, including climate change and environmental concerns, technology, science funding and engagement.

Deep South Challenge Engagement Programme

The Science in Society group has a contract to deliver the Engagement Programme of the Deep South National Science Challenge, one of 11 National Science Challenges funded by MBIE. This action research programme is led by Dr Rhian Salmon, and also supports two additional positions in the group – Lorraine Taylor, the DSC Engagement Coordinator, and Susan Livengood, the DSC Partnerships Director.

History of twentieth century science in New Zealand

Rebecca’s history of science research, which has a focus on the history of science in New Zealand and Antarctica, has been published in books such as Dispatches from Continent Seven: an anthology of Antarctic Science, Mad on Radium: New Zealand in the Atomic Age, The Awa Book of New Zealand Science , and (with Veronika Meduna) Atoms, Dinosaurs and DNA: 68 great New Zealand scientists.

Rebecca is now working on a project on the history of science communication in New Zealand, with a particular focus on the impact of the dissolution of the DSIR in 1992.

Fostering the reflexive scientist

In a recent paper by academics in the Science in Society group, we explore the notion of ‘the reflexive scientists’, who carry out mindful engagement activities conscious of the historical, political, and institutional context within which they operate. This research is on-going and has both theoretical and practical strands. Examples of this ongoing research include a PhD scholarship funded by Te Punaha Matatini and a special issue, under development, into engagement about polar research.

Science communication in New Zealand

As well as participating in the science communication community as practitioners, academics in the Science in Society group research and comment on science communication in New Zealand. Salmon and Priestley are currently collaborating with scholars from FHSS in an examination of climate change communication in New Zealand, which will be published by the Oxford Online Encyclopedia of Climate Change. In a special issue on the future of science in New Zealand, Salmon and Priestley outlined a vision for the future of science communication in New Zealand [link]. Priestley’s ongoing research into the history of science communication in New Zealand included a presentation at the 2016 NSAS conference on “Telephone, talks & open days: how DSIR scientists engaged with curious minds”.

Research collaborations

The Science in Society group has strong and active connections with a number of other organisations and associations, including: