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23/07/2014

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Five go public on science and society

Karen Folkes has had a lot to read

The five expert groups, asked by Science Minister Lord Drayson to tackle different aspects of science and society, are revealing their plans.

Media

Science and the Media: Securing the Future lays out the recommendations of the Science and Media Group. Clive Cookson, science editor of the Financial Times, commented: ‘Anyone interested in science journalism should look at the report. What is really impressive… is the array of new initiatives already inspired by the group’s activities.’

They recommend first, a national co-ordinator for science journalism training, as part of a wider drive on training that also includes scientists and science communicators. Second, a science lobby group which would use the ‘luvvie power’ of science supporters in the arts world. Third, resources for science journalists including a science programming centre to facilitate contact between scientists and programme makers. 

The group also identify a threat to the quality and independence of science reporting posed by the wider crisis in journalism.

Public engagement

The report from the Science for All Expert Group gives a snapshot of the current state of public engagement with the sciences. It outlines a vision, makes the case for public engagement and lays out a roadmap for everyone who is committed to further development.

The group feel actions could most effectively be focused on, first, a wider understanding of why, when and how the public engages with the sciences. Second, supportive networks and mechanisms for effective engagement. There is a significant lack of joined-up working between organisations. Third, a professional culture that values, recognises and supports public engagement with the sciences.

The group is developing an open process for implementation, bringing together different organisations and people involved in public engagement. Please visit the Science for All webpage to find out how you can get involved.

Careers

The Science for Careers Group is calling for action in four key areas. First, within the careers landscape, including awareness along with education and information, advice and guidance. To be effective we need to join up initiatives and messages. Second, better, forward-looking labour market information that can inform both individual career choices and the market for qualifications and training. Third, strengthening the careers Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) profession. We can then enhance the continued professional development needed around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers IAG.

Fourth, learning from employers what skills actually make STEM graduates employable, to support the message that STEM degrees are important. 

Trust

The Trust Group has thought long and hard about what is actually meant by appropriate ‘trust’. It has developed actions in a number of key areas, including first, how to build capacity for public bodies to make better informed judgements about science and its applications. Second, reviewing the impact of the Universal Ethical Code for Scientists, and whether it is fit for the future. Third, the use of scientific evidence in government and other contexts.

The group is grateful to those readers who responded to its requests for help through Survey Monkey in the autumn.

Learning

The Science and Learning Group reported jointly to the Departments for Business, Innovation and Skills and Children, Schools and Families, demonstrating a cross-departmental commitment to science learning.

The Group consulted widely within the science and education communities, including visits to a number of schools and colleges.

The report’s recommendations cover a range of issues within science and mathematics education, from recruitment of school and college staff, and continuous professional development, to ensuring a rigorous curriculum and providing sufficient STEM education and careers IAG.

Keep your eye on the Science and Society interactive pages to see further outputs from the groups.

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Karen Folkes
Karen Folkes is Deputy Head of the Science and Society team at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
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