The 13th annual scientific meeting
of the Academia Europaea
Rotterdam, June 14-16, 2001
The Physics and Engineering section
Promotion of scientific literacy in Europe:
the 6th Framework Programme of the EU
and the Academia Europaea
1) WHY promoting scientific literacy?
1.1) Cultural rationale
1.2) Economic rationale
1.3) Political rationale
2) TARGETS of this action-line
3) Some INITIATIVES
4) The 6th Framework Programme of the EU and possible contributions of the ACADEMIA
WHY? Cultural rationale.
1) Science is a cultural heritage of our Western World and belongs - in principle - to all citizens who made its progress possible.
2) Science enriches life and liberates from the bonds of fear, ignorance and superstition. Pseudo-science is blossoming!
3) Science, information on Nature, is a welcome occupation of leisure-time available to an increasing fraction of our population.
WHY? Economical rationale.
1) Our technology-economy requires skilled manpower. Interest of youngsters in techno-scientific curricula requires a positive attitude of the general public.
2) Misconceptions and irrational fears feed ambivalent attitudes to new technologies and may result in their rejection by the public. Danger of stagnation!
WHY? Political rationale
1) Our democratic traditions require a minimal consensus on major decisions concerning technology-related issues. Scientific literacy (e.g. understanding the concept of RISK!) is basis for an informed debate.
2) Also the decision-makers need a minimal scientific literacy for good governance. The inherent limitations of scientific expertise should be fully accepted and integrated into governance.
TARGETS of actions
1) The young generation directly and through the teacher community.
Open-mindedness, capacity to enthusiasm.
2) All the citizens with special attention to those who are not any more on the work-market (leisure-time!).
4) Science-communicators in the mass-media.
5) Scientists to awake their sense of responsibility for spreading scientific literacy and for exploring the nature of the fears triggered by ignorance and misconceptions.
A few POTENTIAL INITIATIVES
1) Link existing initiatives:
1.1) Round-tables to exchange best practice,
1.2) On-line information via a EU-operated Web site
2) Encourage scientific societies to:
2.1) Set-up structures for these activities,
2.2) Set-up web sites for educational purposes and conferences to the public.
3) Exchange best practice between educational systems
(cfr. Bologna declaration)
(Annex on Sc. Literacy to thesises?)
4) A European Science News Agency (complementary to Alphagalileo)
and many more!
The 6th Framework Programme (EU/AE)
1) The Science/Society dialogue underpins the promotion of the European Research Area (Ph. Busquin)
2) 50 MECU foreseen for the Science/Society action line
(comp. to 16 MECU for the "Public Awareness of Science" action-line in the
5th Framework Programme)
3) Guide-lines in the EU-note "Science, society and the citizen in Europe" /SEC(2000)1973/: (" ... how to fully involve society in seeing through the research agenda?")
* New Relationship between Science and Society,
* Bringing Research Closer to Society,
* Using Scientific and Technological Progress Responsibly,
* Stepping up the Science/Society Dialogue,
* Science and the Public in the European Research Area.
The 6th Framework Programme
Contribution of the AE (?):
Individual efforts or setting-up a working group? By: ESF+Council? Our section? Sections of exact sciences?
Initiatives to identify? (Bottom-up!)
Influence the formulation of the 6th Framework calls
Introduce an EU-proposal for a round-table discussion on the issue still within the 5th Framework (summer 2002):
Dedicated (Dialogue with the public, The role of media / Sc. communicators) or policy-development (STRATA)