Promoting public awareness and engagement in genome sciences.
Public understanding of genetic concepts and associated ethical and policy issues can enable informed deliberation and decision-making. Effective strategies for increasing public understanding involve providing forums incorporating the unique perspectives and attitudes of the public, while allowing opportunities to learn first-hand from scientists about genome research and related applications. Through a partnership between the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy (IGSP) and the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC, we developed and piloted a program aimed to bridge the concepts of formal (public school) and informal (community-based science museum) science learning with the experiential context of family and participatory learning. Called Genome Diner, we piloted the program with 40 genetic/genomic researchers, 76 middle school students and their parents (n = 83) from Durham, NC. Program impact was assessed via pre/post surveys for each participant group. Following participation, parents were significantly more likely to correctly interpret the implications of a genome research finding, and both students and parents indicated higher interest in research as well as higher confidence in accessing and understanding genome research. Genetic literacy of parents and students was not affected by participation in the program, likely due to the relatively high knowledge scores pre-Diner: 88.3 % and 78.5 %, respectively. The interactive format of Genome Diner provided an opportunity for students and parents to explore and discuss interests and issues about genomic research alongside genome scientists, positively influencing attitudes toward genetic research and researchers themselves. These interactions are critical for maintaining public interest and knowledge about genomic research and applications.
Haga, SB; Rosanbalm, KD; Boles, L; Tindall, GM; Livingston, TM; O'Daniel, JM
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