September 29, 2014

A Guide for Communicating Synthetic Biology

As the synthetic biology field advances, the need increases for methods to communicate to the public the scientific findings and applications born from synthetic biology. This document provides a set of guidelines that may help organizations, institutions, journalists, and others discuss synthetic biology with various audiences. The “Communication Process” section incorporates key concepts that communicators should keep in mind during message development and delivery, ensuing discussions, and any evaluations that follow. It is also important to consider “Message Content,” which is covered in the second section. These recommendations are based on studies focused on the perception of synthetic biology, its potential risks and benefits, and the issues surrounding the science. These recommendations are based on public perception research, focus group discussions, and cautionary tales about the hype surrounding the nascent field of synthetic biology. This guide aims to help communicators shape and deliver their messages about synthetic biology in ways that achieve their goals, while still informing the public about the potential benefits and risks of the science in a balanced way.