Outreach as a Unifying Concept in Science Education and Science Communication
Recently there have been many calls for enhanced communication between scientists and the public in order to increase scientific literacy and improve attitudes toward science. However, these educational outreach (E/O) efforts often encounter structural barriers and the processes that support attainment of the goals of E/O are not well documented. E/O is a form of Informal Science Education (ISE), but E/O literature is often published in both science education and science communication journals because of the various approaches and environments in which it occurs. This unique juxtaposition between fields makes E/O research an ideal subject for determining where there is overlap between science education and science communication and where more work can be done.
This paper provides a look at the current state of the literature on E/O. The goal is to understand what research has been done on E/O, where and how this research has been done, the outcomes of the research, and how to coordinate future research. In order to examine these topics, I used a systematic literature search and performed a thematic analysis of the literature I found. The results show that E/O endeavors are diverse and not well-studied, making it difficult to synthesize our understanding of E/O. In this review, I contend that increasing dialogue between the fields of science education and science communication will help to scaffold the research on E/O. I argue that the field of ISE research can be a useful model for how to accomplish these goals.