Dr. Bruce V. Lewenstein is a widely-known authority on public communication of science and technology–how science and technology are reported to the public and how the public understands controversial scientific issues and "emerging technologies" such as biotechnology and nanotechnology. Trained as a historian of science, he often uses historical case studies in his research. He has also done extensive work evaluating "citizen science" outreach projects, in which citizens fully participate in the scientific process by gathering, entering, and sometimes analyzing scientific data. In recent years, he has helped connect the "public communication" field with the "learning sciences" field, especially around issues of public engagement in science.
I work primarily on the history of public communication of science, with excursions into other areas of science communication (such as informal science education). In general, I try to document the ways that public communication of science is fundamental to the process of producing reliable knowledge about the natural world.
Since the mid-1990s, I have spent some time as an evaluator of informal science education projects, especially in areas of “citizen science.”
During the 2000s, I spent some time exploring social and ethical issues associated with emerging technologies such as genomics and nanotechnology.
Courses taught (with enrollments): Comm 101, Cases in Communication (since 2008, renumbered 1101) Fall 2008 (160 students; )
Comm 285, Communication in the Life Sciences
(since 1999, crosslisted as S&TS 285) (since 2008, renumbered Comm 2850/STS 2851) Spring 2008 (52 students);' Comm 352, Science Writing for the Mass Media (since 1997, crosslisted as S&TS 352) (since 2008, renumbered Comm 3520/STS 3521) Fall 2008 (50 students); Comm 353, Science Writing Practicum Spring 2008 (3 students); Comm 466, Public Communication of Science and Technology
(since 1998, crosslisted with S&TS 466) Spring 2008 (19 students); Comm 5660, Science Communication Workshop Spring 2008 (25 students); Comm 6660, Public Engagement in Science and Technology Spring 2003, "Public Engagement in Science" (10 students) (listed as Comm694, Special Topics) Spring 2008 (8 students); Comm 691, Seminar in Communication Research Spring 2008 (formal responsibility as part of role as Director of Graduate Studies) Fall 2008 (formal responsibility as part of role as Director of Graduate Studies); Comm 797, Graduate Independent Study Fall 2008, “Scholarly communication” (1 student); Graduate Student Teaching Supervision Spring 2008 (2 students) Fall 2008 (5 students)
My work has two areas of impact: (1) education for practitioners of public communication of science and technology and (2) shaping of policy research on public knowledge and attitudes towards science and technology. My audiences range from local groups seeking to improve their communication, to national associations, to international settings where students and practitioners gather. Both the education and the policy work are tools of leverage, which ultimately contribute to better public understanding of science and technology.