Public engagement and education of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have become prominent topics in politics, just as the broader ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of research have become immersed in genetics-based research discourse. While STEM education rates are decreasing in the United States and public opinion of genetics-based research remains somewhat divided, it is important to assess ways in which the scientific community can effectively engage the public. In this analysis, the Gopher Kids Study (GKS) was used to determine the indirect social benefits of participation when conducting research in a public environment, as well as public opinion about the use of genetic information. The GKS is a genetics-based pediatric longitudinal study that has been conducted at the Minnesota State Fair from 2010-2012. Participants in the GKS were given a survey including questions about their experience with the study and their opinions on the use of genetic information. These questions sought to address three primary questions about the impact of public engagement through the GKS: 1) how does participation in a genetics-based research study influence the participants' views about genetics, research, and science, 2) how do the unique characteristics of conducting research in a public environment impact participants' experience with the study, and 3) how do the GKS participants' opinions about how genetic information should be handled in society differ from those of other fairgoers? The third aim of this study compared GKS responses to a public opinion survey that was used at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair in which fairgoers not involved with GKS completed. The survey results suggested the GKS participants' views on genetics have changed as a result of their participation, through increased knowledge (70%) and interest (60%). About 57% of the children involved in the study have a more positive interest in science, while roughly 44% of the parents have a more positive opinion of genetics since their enrollment in the study. GKS participants have similar opinions about how genetic information should be used and who they would trust with their DNA as other fairgoers.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. July 2013. Major: Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy. Advisor: Jennifer Kuzma. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 119 pages, appendices A-B.
Kabage, Amanda Jane.
Genetics-based research at the Minnesota State Fair: the impacts of public engagement on participatory experience.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.