|dc.description.abstract||As a field, public engagement with science has evolved from a communicative
foundation (i.e. public understanding of science) to now embrace consultative and
participative modes where non-scientists have greater involvement in the
development of scientific knowledge. However, scant attention has been given to
the potential roles and understandings of young people within this more diverse
collection of modes that comprise public engagement with science. Fortunately, the
interdisciplinary field of childhood studies provides tools to fill the void with its
explicit focus on notions of children and young people.
Therefore, this thesis combines public engagement with science and childhood
studies through my Young SAGE project – an intergenerational collaboration –
thereby addressing this academic oversight. Based on a reflexive thematic analysis
approach, I initially illustrate the challenges for the adult researcher in attending to
generational power dynamics that result from formal research requirements
(including ethics guidance) and normative societal expectations.
Then, paying careful attention to the intergenerational power dynamics within the
Young SAGE collaboration, I highlight how participants developed ownership of
different project facets by deciding on the substantive project and exhibiting
distinct levels of decision-making leadership in progressing the overall project.
Despite positive progress within the Young SAGE group, I also reflect on specific
tensions caused by normative age-segregated perspectives when participants
engaged other adults beyond the confines of our intra-group interactions.
Finally, I incorporate the above analysis within an exploration of perspectives and
insights into public engagement with science involving young people. Young SAGE
participants expressed personal narratives that positioned themselves as agents
capable of seeking communicative experiences to spark, or build on, existing
interests, as well as to inspire ideas for future careers. Furthermore, their very involvement in Young SAGE, illustrates the potential for young people to contribute
to the development of scientific knowledge. However, due to the generational
structure of society – at least in the Minority World – it is necessary to consider how
to maximise the appeal of engagement exercises to ensure they are attractive to
young people and motivate their involvement, especially in collaborative contexts.
In sum, this thesis delivers valuable insights, highlighting young people’s agential
capacities, and articulating the potential barriers and affective dimensions that
should be attended to within public engagement with science as it pertains to
young people. In so doing, this thesis also reveals how the power dynamics implicit
within the generational order of society marginalise the potential for young
people’s contributions in the practice of science.||en