Science museums, controversies and public engagement: Brazilian and Canadian experiences
Through this research project I would like to explore the role of science museums in fostering engagement with science and technology, particularly, when controversial issues are at play (e.g. reproductive technologies, renewable energies, genetically modified food). It will focus on the ways in which museums exhibits communicate with visitors and, also, on the ways visitors create meanings during their visit. I am planning to study and to compare two controversial science exhibits, one in Canada and one in Brazil. I will collect data through interviews with museum staff and visitors, observation of visitors and documents related to the exhibit. Qualitative analysis will allowed me to build portraits of each case and, also, to compare them and to look for more generalizable insights. Regarding the outcomes, this project can help science museums to develop and enact educational and communication actions that will allow visitors to interact meaningfully with exhibits and with controversial scientific issues that can affect their lives and futures. It will be contributing to a significant aspect of scientific literacy.