This entry describes developments in the field of public understanding of science that led to Alan Irwin's conception of citizen science. Irwin's concept turns the public understanding of science idea on its head and explores science–society issues from the point of view of the citizens and what they consider to be relevant. This idea inspired and influenced a range of formal and informal science and technology communication initiatives and projects, which will be described in the second part.

In the 1980s, there was dissatisfaction among members of the scientific community with how members of the public perceived science. A number of mainly quantitative surveys also determined that the public was not scientifically literate enough to make informed decisions involving science. Another tendency during that time ...

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