How to Foster Science Communication in Seemingly Hostile Environments

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Turkey has been known to be a bridge between the East and the West both geographically and culturally. Being reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire and having the majority of its land in the Middle East region, it has been seen as an eastern country by the West. Being founded by a West-oriented founding father and principles that align with the ideals of the Western countries, it has been seen as a western country by the East. Being stuck in this identity clash, Turkey has been through many political and cultural turmoils. Now, being under the rule of a religiously motivated, socially conservative, and politically aggressive political party for the past 17 years, Turkey has had strained relationships with its neighbors and the world on the outside and with the opposition party/views on the inside. This triggered a stronger grip on the power dynamics and democratic institutions by the ruling party, mainly impacting science education, freedom of speech, and scientific progress. On the other hand, due to the advancement of technology and changing cultural/generational norms across the world, the youth of Turkey is growing more connected to the world and demanding more free knowledge and science. This creates a growing gap between the scientific community and the general public. Popular science (or science popularization) is known to be a great tool to bridge this gap; however, in most situations, this gap is filled in environments that are not inherently hostile to scientific growth. In our experience with Evrim Ağacı ("Tree of Evolution"), seemingly hostile environments to science may be one of the most fertile grounds for science and science popularization. In this presentation, I will talk about our experience, lessons learned, and future work in science popularization in Turkey.

Cagri Mert Bakirci-Taylor

Founder and CEO, Evrim Ağacı (Tree of Evolution).

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