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20/10/2014

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Science and Society – moving forward

The Big Society! What does that really mean? The Science and Society strategy expert groups have been thinking about science’s relationship with society in coming up with their reports and action plans. David Willetts, the new Science Minister, tells us what he thinks on pp8-9. And here’s a brief update on what’s happened since the reports were published in the spring.

Science for All

The Big Society! What does that really mean? The Science and Society strategy expert groups have been thinking about science’s relationship with society in coming up with their reports and action plans. David Willetts, the new Science Minister, tells us what he thinks on pp8-9. And here’s a brief update on what’s happened since the reports were published in the spring.

Science for All

A follow-up group has met, and a Science for All Officer recruited to drive forward progress with delivering the action plan. The group is once again chaired by Roland Jackson and consists of representatives from across the public engagement spectrum. Progress includes:

  • sessions at the Science Communication Conference to gather insight into ideas about the Big Society
  • The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement is leading consultation on an Attributes Framework for Public Engagement for use in higher education institutions
  • Sciencewise is leading development of a tool which can be used by public engagement intermediaries to talk in a common language about public engagement activities
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering, with support from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), is developing a research proposal to investigate motivations within business for public engagement
  • The British Science Association has launched a ‘Collective Memory’ to pull together evaluations of public engagement activities

The Media and Trust groups also ran workshops at the Science Communication Conference in May and have also established follow-on groups.

Science and the Media

Progress includes:

  • A Journalism Training Coordinator, based at the Royal Statistical Society, has been appointed and starts in August
  • Funding has been agreed for Science Press Officer Training and Introduction to the Media Course
  • The BBC Buddy Scheme is continuing with several exciting collaborations and contributions being developed!

Science and Trust

A smaller group, still chaired by Aileen Allsop and Tony Whitehead, is taking forward actions, including:

  • Science Communication Conference workshops on evaluation and development of resource to explore ‘good science’;
  • Aileen Allsop met with business to develop a business ethics working group;
  • Project underway to redevelop the universal ethical code for scientists and assess ethical training needs in government compared with other sectors
  • Work by Research Information Network to develop a pilot scheme for discussing science in library spaces
  • New Sciencewise dialogue on trust in various settings
  • Paper on proposals for strengthening evaluation in science and society in progress

Science for Careers

The Careers group has also established a follow-on group whose actions include:

  • A pilot project to raise awareness of the important contribution parents make to careers choices
  • Research into raising the visibility of small and medium enterprises as employers
  • Widening the range of role models available and research into the portrayal of STEM skills
  • Developing a STEM volunteering strand to work alongside leading, existing volunteering and mentoring projects
  • Research into the demand and delivery of science and engineering work experience and sandwich year placements, and the barriers to their supply
  • 'Hidden Scientist' event to highlight the amount of science used in 'non-science' jobs

Science and Learning

The Science and Learning Expert Group was fundamentally different to the others, reporting to both BIS and the Department for Education Ministers. Many of the recommendations in the report align with policy intentions in the Coalition Agreement, such as 'attracting more top science and maths graduates into teaching'. The findings are being taken into account as part of policy development work for the new government.

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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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