Dr. Hossein Sheikh Rezaee, faculty member of Popularization of Science Research Group at NRISP in an interview with the IRNA journalist referred to the importance of Popularization of Science in the community and stressed on the role of NGOs and the media in popularization of science.
He said; popularization of science as an interdisciplinary field is the easiest way which allows public access to scientific results and increases public awareness. Usually popularization of science has two goals; stimulating human attention to science and supplying the most important scientific results in simple language which spread scientific thinking and rationalism in the society and open the way for the advancement of science and its institutionalization for the benefit of the society.
Popularization of science in the community is possible in different ways; more links between the scientists and researchers and the people, simple expression of scientific topics in various media and making it possible for people to touch the scientific tools like observatories, planetariums, and so on closely in the museums of science and technology.
Today, popularization of science embraces a more general concept and is not only the engagement of people with science to provide information data. He continued; based on the concept of the popularization of science which became popular since 1970s, it was thought that science should give the basic principles of physics, chemistry and biology to the people. But this concept was gradually questioned that why we should just tell people how a device like a cellphone works? Rather, we must use the knowledge of ordinary people and different classes to develop science. Farmers or stockbreeders, for example, have a certain tacit knowledge that scientists do not have, and this knowledge can convey to them. We have successful examples for these cases.
He also emphasized on the development of the concept of popularization of science based on three components and said; today these components include the transfer of scientists' information to the public, informing scientists about the practical knowledge of the people and a new component which is the right of people to monitor the development of science and technology; because science and technology are developing with the money of the people, for example, they can say, a nuclear power plant should not be built in our life place because of damage to the environment or a road should not be constructed somewhere, and so on.
He referred to the institutions responsible for the popularization of science and said; these institutions can be generally divided into two categories: state institutions including public education system; that is, education through textbooks during the 12 years and then the institutes of higher education, including universities.
Referring to NGOs, Dr. Sheikh Rezaee added; promotive journals such as the Journal of Astronomy and publications on basic sciences and medicine in Iran as well as NGOs have generally done a lot of successful works. Stressing on the use of digital features for popularization of science, he explained: only television and radio networks were previously active in the field, and they played a role in the production and distribution of documentaries in the popularization of science, but now, given the availability of information technology and smartphones, all governmental and nongovernmental organizations are easily linked to their audiences. Even ordinary people, with their software on their phones can help scientists in the process of collecting information in order to participate in the production process of science.
Referring to the collapse of the monopoly of traditional media in Iran because of the strengthening of cyberspace, he noted: though cyberspace can trigger the dissemination of false news and the spread of pseudoscience, in general it provides a lot of opportunities for those who strengthen the relationship between science and society, in a way that was never imaginable before.
Referring to the programs of some of the most prestigious foreign universities to make possible the visit of people from these universities on certain days, he added: many research centers also devote part of their budget to promote science such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which has devoted part of its budget to popularization of science in the form of programs such as NASA for Kids and NASA for the Public.