Nr. 51/2017 Communicating Knowledge of Plant Genetic Resources to the Public – Københavns Universitet

15. juni 2017

Nr. 51/2017 Communicating Knowledge of Plant Genetic Resources to the Public

Abstract

This thesis analyses how knowledge of Plant Genetic Resources was communicated to the public through demonstration-projects in a grant-scheme, which was part of the Danish Rural Development Programme. The grant-receivers were museums and other Informal Learning Environments. I made three studies: A study of the conditions influencing the formulation of the grant-scheme, a study of the grant-receivers’ communication, and a study of cooperation between the grant-receivers. 

I found that the grant-scheme was based on scholarly knowledge. This knowledge was changed in the formulation of the grant-scheme in a political environment. Limitations to the knowledge were a result of the adaptation to EU’s Rural Development Policy, which made it difficult to fulfil the aims of the grant-scheme as well as international obligations on FAO and UN levels. Furthermore, though central goals of EU’s Rural Development Policy were fulfilled with the development of expensive quality food-products made from Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) it was difficult at the same time to raise public awareness of PGR in a way that reflected the most important core of the scholarly knowledge. The decisions to invite many diverse grant-receivers, to include an obligation for all grant-receivers to communicate, and to enhance cooperation between them were all successful and unique to the Danish implementation of this grant-scheme in the Rural Development Programme. This means that some of the aims of the grant-scheme were fulfilled, but most of them interfered with each other, hindering a proper implementation.

All in all the studies show that the potential to disseminate knowledge of PGR to the public through the grant-scheme was high but limited in scope due to the conditions that made it. With these limits the grant-receivers, were successful communicators. Their communication was coherent and well integrated in the institution. The grant-receivers were closely related to scholars, and they used many characteristics known to enhance science learning in Informal Learning Environments to make the abstract ‘PGR’ concrete for their visitors. The many diverse grant-receivers enhanced the potential of learning and learners, since all facilitated the same core message with the same overall purpose in many different places at the same time. The effect of this was enhanced by the grant-receivers’ diversity and by working together in teams and network.

Recommendations are given to the work with PGR: It is important that international PGR-strategies and a national programme govern the conservation, growing, and development of PGR. Informal Learning Environments can be successful communicators, and collaboration may increase efficiency, lower costs, and may also help building up stable, long-term relations and trust between the Plant Genetic Environment and the State.

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