Dr Eric Jensen has two main research specialisms: Public engagement, and media. He also contributes to the development of impact evaluation methodology and social change theory. His research on the impacts of public engagement cuts across a wide range of settings, from zoos to conservation training programmes to museums (e.g. Natural History Museum, University of Cambridge Museums) to festivals (e.g. Cambridge Science Festival and the Cheltenham Festivals).
Recent projects have also investigated the impacts of online public engagement with research (e.g. the JISC-funded PERO Project), the role of digital technology in evaluating arts and culture experiences (NESTA and AHRC-funded 'Qualia' project), and a Sciencewise project: The Role of Social Media in Public Dialogue and Policy. He is also participating in CUSP (Center for Urban Science and Progress), based at New York University.
His research on science in the media has included a detailed investigation of coverage of the issue of therapeutic cloning in the US and UK (his book on this topic, published by Ashgate, can be found HERE). Current research projects include:
- Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded project: 'Embedding and demonstrating the value of technology-enhanced cultural impact measurement for arts and culture organisations'.
- PERFORM (perform-research.eu)- This EU Horizon2020 project investigates the value of participatory performance-based methods of engaging young people with science. This 3-year project began in November 2015.
- Artory (artory.co.uk) - This project uses a smartphone app and open source technology to gain unprecedented insights into city-wide patterns of arts and culture consumption. Find out about how the methods for this project were developed in this report.
Recent projects have included:
- Rapid evidence assessment on the topic of informal food assistance and household food security (commissioned by Defra)
- The Role of Technology in Evaluating Cultural Value (AHRC)
- Higher Education Academy project: Engaged Teaching and Learning within the Social Sciences: Embedding Engagement with Civil Society Organisations within the Curriculum and Higher Education Teaching Practice
- A three-year study of conservation education at ZSL London Zoo (funded by the Greater London Authority)
- A project researching the use of student volunteers within UK festivals that involve universities in public engagement (funded by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement)
- A mixed methods external evaluation studies of the Cambridge Science Festival and the Cambridge Festival of Ideas (funded by the University of Cambridge).
Eric is engaged in developing policy and practice impacts from his research. His policy engagement acting as the research methods expert for a research project commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the Role of Food Aid in Household Food Security in the UK. This research was discussed in Parliament and influenced the policy and media debate about the impact of welfare spending cuts in the UK. Eric participated in a number of media interviews, including with the BBC, on this topic.
Eric's research on the role of zoos in public engagement with conservation was featured as an impact case study in REF 2014: http://impact.ref.ac.uk/CaseStudies/CaseStudy.aspx?Id=2418
Projects on the value of engagement with arts and culture
- Partner on a European Commission-funded project called PERFORM, which is about the value of arts performance as a method of engaging young people with science
- Prepared a report on developing metrics to evaluate the value of engagement with arts and culture.
- Conducted a study on social inclusion in an art museum
Recent publications include the following peer-reviewed journal articles:
- Conservation Letters ('Probing the Link between Biodiversity-Related Knowledge and Self-Reported Proconservation Behavior in a Global Survey of Zoo Visitors' - Open Access)
- Conservation Biology (e.g. 'Evaluating Children's Conservation Biology Learning at the Zoo')
- Public Understanding of Science ('Critical review of the United Kingdom’s “gold standard” survey of public attitudes to science' (full text here) and 'Mediating subpolitics in US and UK science news')
- Nature (e.g. 'Conservation: Zoo visits boost biodiversity literacy')
- Culture & Psychology ('A cyclical model of social change')
- New Genetics & Society ('Celebrity life politics in US and UK journalistic coverage of therapeutic cloning research')
- Media, Culture & Society ('Between credulity and scepticism: Sightings of the fourth estate in 21st century science journalism')
- Psychology & Society ('Science learning at the zoo')
- Science Education (Critique of “Science Capital”: A Conceptual, Methodological, and Empirical Argument for Extending Bourdieusian Notions of Capital Beyond the Arts)
In addition, he has contributed two chapters on science communication practice and methods in the Oxford University Press volume Investigating Science Communication in the Information Age; and two books -
- 'Culture & Social Change: Transforming Society through the Power of Ideas' (Information Age)
- 'The Therapeutic Cloning Debate: Global Science and Journalism in the Public Sphere'.
Eric is currently on research leave. However, his teaching normally includes the undergraduate modules 'Media, Audiences and Social Change' and 'Practice of Quantitative Research' and the postgraduate module: 'Researching Science, Media and Public Policy'. Papers are accessible here.
BBC Radio Oxfordshire interview (8 September 2017)
BBC Radio Solent interview (8 September 2017)
BBC World Service interview (8 September 2017)
BBC Radio Shropshire interview (8 September 2017)