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date: 09 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This synthesis chapter recaps the key themes found in Part III of the handbook, which presents several case studies of singular instances of science communication about contentious (or potentially contentious) topics. While the cases are diverse, there are several recurring themes that are summarized in this synthesis. One theme is that public response to science issues is highly dependent on social and political factors and contexts, meaning any issue is not predestined for controversy. A second is that communication about science by authorities or key actors should honor scientific complexity but avoid false assurances. The third theme summarized in this synthesis is how the chapters in this section note the value in accounting for and validating public viewpoints. This summary concludes with suggestions for future research and public engagement activities that constructively capture and analyze public responses to science controversies and debates.

Keywords: scientific controversy, public engagement, upsteam engagement, social amplification of risk, risk communication, science communication

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