Public awareness of science

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"Public understanding of science" redirects here. For the journal, see Public Understanding of Science.

Public awareness of science (PAwS), public understanding of science (PUS) or more recently, Public Engagement with Science and Technology are terms relating to the attitudes, behaviours, opinions and activities that comprise the relations between the general public or lay society as a whole to scientific knowledge and organisation.

It is a comparatively new approach to the task of exploring the multitude of relations and linkages science, technology and innovation have among the public. While earlier work in the discipline focused on augmenting public knowledge of scientific topics, in line with the information deficit model of science communication, the discrediting of the model has led to an increased emphasis on how the public chooses to use scientific knowledge and on the development of interfaces to mediate between expert and lay understandings of an issue (examples?). The area integrates a series of other fields, such as:

How to raise public awareness and public understanding of science and technology, and how the public feels and knows about science in general, and specific subjects, such as genetic engineering, bioethics, etc., are important lines of research in this area.

The Bodmer Report[edit]

The publication of the Royal Society's' report The Public Understanding of Science (or Bodmer Report) in 1985 is widely held to be the birth of the Public Understanding of Science movement in Britain.[1] You can download a PDF from the Royal Society website.[2] The report led to the foundation of the Committee on the Public Understanding of Science and a cultural change in the attitude of scientists to outreach activities.[3]

Project examples[edit]

Government- and private-led campaigns and events, such as Dana Foundation's "Brain Awareness Week," are becoming a strong focus of programmes which try to promote public awareness of science.

The UK PAWS Foundation dramatically went as far as establishing a Drama Fund with the BBC in 1994. The purpose was to encourage and support the creation of new drama for television, drawing on the world of science and technology.[4]

The Vega Science Trust was set up in 1994 to promote science through the media of television and the internet with the aim of giving scientists a platform from which to communicate to the general public.

The Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science chair at The University of Oxford was established in 1995 for the ethologist Richard Dawkins[5] by an endowment from Charles Simonyi. Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy has held the chair since Dawkins' retirement in 2008.[6]

Further reading[edit]

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