Science and society (SAASTA Critical Thinker's Session)
SAASTA (South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement) arranged a critical thinker's session on researching the interaction between science and society this past Thursday (July 05) in Cape Town. Some 40 policy makers, representatives from the National System of Innovation, natural and social science/humanities researchers, and science communication practitioners attended the session, which was held at the Pavilion, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.
"Our mandate is to change lives ... put science in the hands of everybody." (JN)
"Science must address the needs, interests and aspirations of everyone." (JN)
"Science must engage with us, and we must engage with science." (JN)
"People should develop along the lines of their own genius." (HdP)
"Science knowledge and social knowledge are interactive." (DR)
"Race is an invented political system, not a natural biological division." (DR)
"Without scrutiny by and engagement with social scientists, new genomic research of race threatens to reinforce racial injustice in the United States and around the globe." (DR)
Prof David Cooper noted that a new national researcher career track is needed. The traditional career track is Lecturer -- Senior Lecturer -- Associate Professor -- Professor. A new (parallel) career track would be Researcher (post-doc) -- Senior researcher -- Associate Professor researcher -- Professor researcher.
Michael Gastrow (HSRC) spoke on "Measuring the South African public's relationship with science." He showed that only nine such studies (between 1991 and 2007) had been carried out in South Africa, of which only four were nationally representative.
He described a tantalizing new study, "South African public attitudes towards science", which has been submitted for publication in the SAJS. The study had 3183 participants, who completed the 2012 SASAS survey profile. Embedded within this survey is a 20-item scale measuring science attitudes, knowledge and sources of information. I hope that this scale will be made public soon - I can think of several uses for it.
(top row, l.t.r.) Lorenzo Raynard (programme director), Dr Jabu Nukeri (SAASTA Managing Director)
(2nd row) Mr Ben Durham (Director for Biotechnology, DST), Michelle Joubert-Alagöz (SAASTA Audience Analyst)
(3rd row) Prof David Cooper (UCT, Deputy Dean of Humanities, leader of Engaged Scholarship Research Group) and Prof Martin Bauer (London School of Economics), Dr Hester du Plessis (Science Comm. Unit, HSRC)
(last row) Prof Dorothy Roberts (University of Pennsylvania, USA), Mr Michael Gastrow (HSRC)
nothing more to see. please move along.