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The public value of science

Status: Completed
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This project aimed to increase awareness among policy-makers and the public of a core ISC value: science as a global public good.

Background  

Public trust in science remains strong – but in an increasingly fragmented and polarized political and media environment, it is critically important for scientists to defend this fragile, vital idea.  

This project aims to promote the importance of science as a global public good, focusing on policy-makers and the general public.  

Misleading information now spreads more easily than ever. This can feed dangerous individual and governmental decisions on issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. And more broadly, it can promote science denialism, sow doubt about the need for science in general, and threaten progress toward greater use of scientific evidence to inform decision-making.  

This problem affects every scientific field and all scientific communities around the world. Finding solutions could not be more important: our future health and survival depend on the adoption of policies with a sound scientific basis. 

Promoting evidence-based policy-making is a core ISC goal. To achieve this, we need to interrogate our understanding of how perceptions of science inform policy and, in turn, enable institutions to support the emerging learning. 

Activities and impact

Understanding scientific engagement

This workstream sough to clarify the concepts commonly used around scientific literacy, science education and perceptions of science, to describe the theoretical framing and empirical evidence underpinning the assumptions behind them. It also examined the links between policy and scientific literacy based on the latest research. 

Enabling scientific engagement

This workstream has been designed to support the ISC membership to respond to the challenges facing science engagement and those perceptions of science which undermine evidence based policy, international collaboration and, ultimately, science for sustainability. 

The programme sought to respond to the threats scientists face from ‘fringe’ groups, scientific nationalism, conspiracy theorists and populism. 

Key milestones: 

Extending scientific engagement

The scientific community has an obligation to explain and champion the role of science in all decisions that affect society. This workstream articulated the partnerships ISC developed with media to engage publics in the value of science.  

As part of this workstream, two project were completed: 

Governance 

An Expert Panel consists of 12 researchers, commentators and scientists who have made a significant contribution to the discourse on scientific literacy or whose work is well positioned to make a contribution to understanding public perceptions of science. They will be engaged as resource people for the programme. 

Robert Lepenies served as a special advisor to the project.

Jennifer Metcalfe

Jennifer Metcalfe

Director

Econnect Communication

Jennifer Metcalfe
Courtney Radsch

Courtney Radsch

Director

Center for Journalism and Liberty

Courtney Radsch
Paul Richards

Paul Richards

Director of Communications and Outreach

Australian Academy of Science

Paul Richards
Tawana Kupe

Tawana Kupe

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of Pretoria

Tawana Kupe
Marta Entradas

Marta Entradas

Assistant Professor

Department of Sociology at University Institute of Lisbon

Marta Entradas
Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams

Research Fellow

Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

Daniel Williams
Elodie Chabrol

Elodie Chabrol

Director

Pint of Science

Elodie Chabrol
Felix Bast

Felix Bast

Professor

Central University of Punjab

Felix Bast
Kamila Navarro

Kamila Navarro

Scientific Writer and Editor

National University of Singapore’s (NUS)

Kamila Navarro
Andrew Revkin

Andrew Revkin

Founding Director

Initiative on Communication and Sustainability, Columbia University’s Climate School

Andrew Revkin
Genner Llanes-Ortiz

Genner Llanes-Ortiz

Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies

Bishop’s University

Genner Llanes-Ortiz
Yvette d’Entremont

Yvette d’Entremont

Science Blogger

Yvette d’Entremont
Robert Lepenies

Robert Lepenies

Professor for Pluralist and Heterodox Economics

Karlshochschule International University

Robert Lepenies

News & Events

news reading blog
29 June 2023 - 10 min read

Preparing for Crisis X: Can newsrooms and the scientific community overcome sceptical publics?

Learn more Learn more about Preparing for Crisis X: Can newsrooms and the scientific community overcome sceptical publics?

Project team

Alison Meston

Alison Meston

Communications Director

International Science Council

Alison Meston
Nick Ishmael-Perkins

Nick Ishmael-Perkins

Former Senior Consultant

International Science Council

Nick Ishmael-Perkins

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