Go back to article: Science communication in Latin America: what is going on?

Introduction

In May 2014, Latin America was the stage for the 13th International Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference (PCST 2014).

The PCST conference series is among the three most important international forums on science communication. While the other two – the World Conference of Science Journalists and the Science Centre World Summit (for those working in hands-on science centres) – target specific sectors, PCST joins together everyone: science journalists, science museum and science centre staff, science theatre directors, artists, scholars of science communication, scientists who deal with the public, public information officers for scientific institutions and many others interested in these issues. It is a very diverse and rich environment for sharing and discussing how to engage society in science and technology.

Held in Salvador, Brazil, PCST 2014 was, like other PCST conferences, a science communication marathon: from the 452 proposals submitted, 342 were accepted into the programme and these were distributed across 14 parallel sessions[1] with simultaneous translation for keynote talks.

Since its launch in 1989, the conference has moved every two years to a different part of the globe. However, it reached Latin America for the first time only in 2014. It is not surprising, then, that 56% of the 507 science communicators from 49 countries who participated in the conference were from Latin American countries. Europe represented 26% of the participants, while other regions provided fewer delegates: for example Asia 6%, United States and Canada 5% and Africa 4%. Overall, 61% of the participants were from the developing world.

Without losing its international focus, the conference provided a good opportunity for discussion about what happens in science communication in this part of the world. The organisers therefore designed some of the sessions to address regional needs (including those of regions outside Latin America). In this discussion piece I will map out some aspects of science communication in Latin America, highlighting some of the challenges.

First of all, it is important to remember that Latin America is a huge region of extraordinary diversity. There are social, cultural, economic and scientific differences between countries and even within the same country.

Figure 1

Two Ecuadorian women adapt technology to their own lives by creating a sunshade out of a satellite dish

Two Ecuadorian women adapt technology to their own needs by creating a sunshade out of a satellite dish 

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/140205/xxxx