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Title: Educational Dialogue on Public Perception of Nuclear Radiation
Authors: Varsha Hande
Karthik Prathaban 
M Prakash Hande 
Keywords: educational dialogue
Nuclear radiation
public perception
Science communication
Technology and Society (STS)
Issue Date: 6-Dec-2021
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Citation: Varsha Hande, Karthik Prathaban, M Prakash Hande (2021-12-06). Educational Dialogue on Public Perception of Nuclear Radiation. International Journal of Radiation Biology 98 (2) : 158-172. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Purpose: Across the world, nuclear radiation and its effects on the population has been the topic of back-burner debates, given the strong emotional connotations involved. We believe that education is crucial for people to make informed decisions regarding nuclear energy. With a science-technology-society (STS) approach, a seminar-style educational module on Radiation and Society was formulated at Tembusu College, National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2015. This primarily aimed to equip students with the necessary analytical tools to assess evidence and thus, evaluate existing assumptions on radiation/nuclear power/nuclear energy, the effects on mankind and societal perception of radiation. Methods: Radiation and Society was a seminar-style module which consisted of weekly 3-hour interactive sessions for 13 weeks. Throughout the semester, students were acquainted with themes and concepts related to radiation and society, such as the historical dimensions, radiation science, role in medicine, the psychology of radiation fear, existing radiation myths, complexities in radiation disaster response, communication of risks and emergency preparedness. Discussions during the sessions covered a variety of topics, including ionizing radiation as a result of nuclear fall-out, historical contextualization of nuclear fear, and uses of radiation in (bio)medicine, STS and science communication. Field visits to research reactors and cancer centers were arranged to showcase the diverse applications of nuclear radiation. Experts involved in various related spheres of influence shared their perspectives on matters such as technological developments in emergency preparedness, nuclear reactors, and societal impacts. Results: The interactive facilitator-student sessions helped educate young minds about nuclear radiation. A post-course survey was conducted to obtain opinions of students on their perceptions of reliability and safety of nuclear energy, effectiveness of the seminar, and where radiation ranked relative to alternative energy sources. Overall findings of the survey indicated that although nuclear energy was perceived as a safe and reliable substitute, renewable energy was considered a better option. Participants felt that, as per the learning objectives, the sessions were effective in improving awareness regarding nuclear energy. Conclusion: This seminar-style module equipped students with the analytical tools required to critically assess sources of knowledge and social perceptions of radiation. In addition to the concluding perceptions toward nuclear energy from the post-course survey, a pre-module/course survey to reveal changes in student attitudes is planned to aid refinement of the course in future iterations. Such educational efforts will allow students to be aware of both the pros and cons of nuclear radiation and thus, construct informed opinions.
Source Title: International Journal of Radiation Biology
ISSN: 0955-3002
DOI: 10.1080/09553002.2022.2009147
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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