Over the past decades there has been an increasing recognition of the
need to promote dialogue between science and society. Often this takes the form
of formal processes, such as citizen’s juries, that are designed to allow the public
to contribute their views on particular scientific research areas. But there are
also many less formal mechanisms that promote a dialogue between science and
society. This editorial considers science festivals and citizen science in this context
and argues that we need a greater understanding of the potential impacts of these
projects on the individuals involved, both scientists and the public.