The public value of science

The project aims to increase awareness amongst wider publics, policymakers and decision-makers of science as a global public good.

Levels of public trust in science remain relatively high. But the political and media environment is increasingly fragmented and polarized, and trust in institutions is declining. This means that scientific knowledge appears to have a diminishing influence on public opinion. This trend is exacerbated by pervasive digital technologies and social media, which enable the widespread dissemination of misleading and biased information. This in turn feeds new expressions of science denialism, casts doubt on the need for scientific understanding and interpretation, and threatens evidence-informed decision-making. This problem affects all scientific fields, all types of research, and all scientific communities around the world. It is naturally of great concern, as our future health and survival depend on the adoption of policies that have a sound scientific basis.

Anticipated Impact

Increased awareness amongst wider publics, policymakers and decision-makers of science as a global public good.

Activities

Summary

The scientific community has an obligation to explain and champion the role of science in all decisions that affect society. Even when the science is complex and contradicts popularly held ideas, it can help in framing the issues, explaining complexity and proposing possible options.

Merely repeating scientific results and opinions, either more clearly or more loudly, is not the way to success. Instead, direct engagement is needed with those outside the scientific community, and a deeper understanding of how people receive and respond to messages, both individually and collectively

Key Milestones

Mobilizing the knowledge and resources of the ISC’s scientific community, and in partnership with the Australian Academy of Science, the ISC has launched a new web-based show accessible to a global public audience. Global Science TV will aim to share scientific expertise directly from experts themselves, while educating, entertaining and informing viewers on major issues of scientific relevance.

Global Science TV: Amplifying verified science to a wide audience

Get involved

Members can get involved in Global Science TV by nominating an expert to appear on the show. Initial programmes included ISC Patrons Mary Robinson, Ismail Serageldin and Vint Cerf.

Follow Global Science TV on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

Next Steps

  • Phase II of the project comprises an international Expert Working Group, as outlined in the project concept note (ISC Action Plan pg. 27).  The ISC will convene the group to frame the issues around the public value of science, now laid bare in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. The group will prepare a Discussion Paper, identifying actions the ISC should adopt, and prepare by early 2021, a plan for delivering a long-term global campaign on the public value of science. It will also provide advice on Global Science TV and how this venture may expand to other ISC member partners.
  • Phase III will involve ISC members and stakeholders meeting (virtually or in-person) to drive the suggested actions from the Discussion Paper forward in 2021.

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