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Is It the Art or the Science of Science Communications?

Rowe, Sylvia MA; Alexander, Nick BA

doi: 10.1097/NT.0b013e3182766c64
Nutrition Communications

Nutrition, health, and food scientists and others charged with reaching out with credible science information have known for some time that they are in an uphill battle for the hearts and minds of the public. Especially, with the escalating noise of Web communications and ever-more-immediately available information of all kinds, it has become increasingly difficult for scientists to be heard and understood above the electronic din. For 2 days in May 2012, the National Academies of Science, through its Sackler Colloquium series, held a conference to explore the “Science of Science Communications” and more specifically to explore why the public often fails to respond to science-based calls to action. This article summarizes for nutrition communicators the Colloquium’s major themes.

Perhaps nutrition communications include a little of both art and science, but take a look and see for yourself what our communications experts are saying

Sylvia Rowe, MA, is an adjunct professor at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Boston, Massachusetts, and at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is also the president of SR Strategy, a health, nutrition, food safety, and risk communications and issue management consultancy located in Washington, DC. Previously, Ms Rowe served as president and chief executive officer of the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and IFIC Foundation, nonprofit organizations that communicate science-based information of food safety and nutrition issues to health professionals, journalists, government officials, educators, and consumers.

Nick Alexander, BA, is former senior media counselor for the IFIC Foundation, Washington, DC. He holds a bachelor’s of arts degree from Harvard University. A former network correspondent with ABC News, he has been tracking and writing about science communications issues and the evolving challenge to public acceptance of credible science for the past decade.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Sylvia Rowe, MA, 1100 Connecticut Ave NW, #1000, Washington, DC 20036 (

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.