PEWS Vision:

We strive to expand and enrich the interface between science and the public to benefit all stakeholders

What We Do


Public-facing events about science organized with our community partners


Planning and support for UC researchers’ outreach efforts, including in NSF proposals’ broader impacts


Training opportunities in public engagement with science, including workshops and graduate and undergraduate courses


Interdisciplinary group researching the theory and practice of public engagement with science

The UC Center for Public Engagement with Science focuses on four areas of public engagement with science

➀ Science Communication

Public engagement with science requires a different skill set than traditional academic communication. Public audiences have different backgrounds, knowledge, and interests than a typical academic audience (and than each other), and effectively engaging with these audiences requires sensitivity to these differences. Science communication, such as in op-eds, public talks, news interviews, and social media, is improved by taking an engagement approach.

➁ Science Education

Crucial opportunities for effective engagement with science occurs in the classroom—from preschool through university education. These opportunities can be extended, as with the development of new curricula and introducing new methods to one’s teaching, or they can be brief, as with classroom “expert” visits and facilitated activities. An important opportunity for collaborative, interdisciplinary public engagement with science is also created in teacher enrichment and continuing education trainings.

➂ Informal Science Education

Learning about science also occurs beyond the traditional classroom; after all, people only spend approximately 5% of their lives in educational classes. Informal science education, such as in museums, zoos, libraries, and parks, offers members of the public only brief encounters with science but in contexts where they are primed for educational experiences. Many informal settings also attract an audience of different ages, from children to adults, each of which has different backgrounds and interests. Inquiry-based exchanges are especially important in this setting, which involves posing open-ended questions or problems to guide the exploration of ideas.

➃ Scientific Work with Communities

Some scientific research is conducted in collaboration with members of the public, such as people volunteering to collect data about the birds in their backyards. One goal of this can be helping to develop greater interest in or understanding of the research topic or of science in general. This setting for public engagement with science provides an opportunity for sustained interactions of researchers and members of the public in a project of shared interest.