New Media: A Double-Edged Sword in Support of Public Engagement with Science

  • Ayelet Baram-TsabariEmail author
  • Amit M. Schejter
Part of the Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Series book series (CULS, volume 17)


Modern life requires individuals with little formal educational background in the sciences to daily make science and technology-based decisions, ranging from vaccinating one’s children and consuming genetically modified food to buying a house near a nuclear power plant. The main information source for many such decisions are contemporary media that have become the public’s primary reference concerning science and technology. Indeed, these media increasingly shape public engagement with science. This chapter addresses the role of new media in personal and civic decision-making. It argues that many of its characteristics – abundance of content, interactivity, mobility, and multimediality – act as a double-edged sword, providing enhanced affordance over traditional media, while rendering it more difficult for a non-expert audience to reach informed, science-related decisions. Higher and lower thinking skills are discussed as they pertain to the usage of new media while taking into account public deliberation and distributive justice concerns.


New media Traditional media Public engagement with science Internet Search engines Science-based decisions Personal and civic decision-making Thinking skills Public deliberation Distributive justice 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education in Science and TechnologyTechnion – Israel Institute of TechnologyHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Communication Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael
  3. 3.Donald P. Bellisario College of CommunicationsThe Pennsylvania State UniversityPAUSA

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