Thursday, December 18, 2008

Defining Terms

Here at New Voices, we're going to be talking a lot about advocacy and science communication. Both of those terms (like many others) have different definitions depending on who you are talking to, so we thought we'd put at least get some ideas out there about what we think each term means.

Science communication is any communication relating to science. This can be scientist to scientist, researcher to policymaker, industry to public, etc. etc. Some science communication is advocacy.

Advocacy is an effort to influence some sort of policy decision through persuasion and education. It can be as simple as writing to a legislator or speaking up at a PTA meeting.*

What do advocacy and science communication mean to you? How do you communicate about science with the people around you? Are you persuasive? Are you informative?

We look forward to learning about you and your communication and advocacy styles!

*A special note to dispel a common misconception: Though separated by a fine line, advocacy is NOT the same thing as lobbying. The difference is that lobbying is related to a specific bill or piece of legislation, whereas advocacy is about a more general subject matter. This may seem like a loophole, but the difference is important. Advocacy is about changing minds in the grand scheme of things whereas lobbying is trying to get a policymaker to vote a certain way on a specific bill.

Like a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not necessarily a square, lobbying is advocacy but advocacy is not necessarily lobbying.

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