What can design do for science, and science do for design?

‘Scientists cannot be held responsible for all of the problems in science communication. Communication is a complex, two-way process. People may hear and understand a message yet not be able to act on it’.

Here is a link to the article published in Cheltenham Festival’s Litmus. back in June 2013.

In it there’s a discussion in how to improve better and more accessible communication for science and technology. They see that design and communication is an ‘integral’ part of the research process – not just the bit at the end that’s the ‘impact’.

‘In our definition, design is concerned with ideas and problem solving on technical, functional, aesthetic, economic and socio-political levels’. 

Olding-Smee and Kent suggest that the public need to be better engaged with science and they see this having two elements: ownership and participation. Most public engagement has previously been through observation in the past. Indeed there has been a boom in Citizen science, but a trust between public and the science community needs to evolve through stronger communication strategies.

‘Design is perhaps best understood as being like a glue between someone else’s content and an intended recipient’.

Elsewhere, The UK University and Science Minister was quoted back in October during the debate about collaboration with science and design. Government has seen this as a key area to drive economic growth:

“Combining science and design is vital as the UK positions itself as a world leader for developing new innovations to stay ahead in the global race. I recognise the important need for these two communities to collaborate more and push forward the exciting new industrial revolution in technology…” 

I’ll be interested to see whether the Minister will take up the recommendations. Unfortunately, I am a little sceptical about what Ministers say in comparison to what they actually do. However, there were interesting recommendations that came up through this debate:

1. At the education level, the Minister for Universities & Science to take on the responsibility of being an acting Minister for Design, advocating the place of design in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – subjects.

2.  Greater collaboration across government departments, institutions, and museums to help stimulate the UK economy.

3. Break down language barriers and come up with new ways of expression to encourage interaction between scientists, engineers and designers of all shades.

4. Celebrate the successes of joint working and to communicate that, when these two areas work together, what results is great products and services that people remember and buy.

5. Fund this collaboration so that it becomes more commonplace and established, and goes on to power the next industrial revolution.





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