AAAS says now is time to act to enhance Public Face of Science

August 27, 2020

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is calling on all organizations with an interest in the public face of science to “use the resources at their disposal to support effective science communication and engagement” as part of its third and final installment in a series of reports from an initiative that began in 2016. The Public Face of Science Initiative set out to address the complex and evolving relationship between science and society. Previous reports from the three-year project included public opinion polling on perceptions of science in America (2018) and how people experience science outside the classroom (2019). This final report identifies three high-level areas for change to help shape attitudes toward science and people’s experiences with it.

In his letter from the president that accompanies the report, David Oxtoby notes, “The current crisis has underscored the importance of a society in which everyone has equal opportunity to learn from, engage with, and participate in science. However, revenue losses and budget cuts are having an enormous, and still-evolving, impact on the professional writers, educators, museum curators, outreach organizers, and researchers who are dedicated to building the connections between science and society. While the goals and suggested actions identified throughout this report are more important than ever, they are even further from being realized due to diminished resources and field-wide layoffs. For those with the power and capacity to support the institutions and organizations that provide access to science, now is the time to act.”

The three high-level areas for change that are identified in the final report are:

  1. Building capacity for effective science communication and engagement in the scientific community, which includes recommendations for universities, scientists, and scientific societies.
  2. Shaping the narrative around science offers recommendations for science journalists and communicators, scientific societies and funders.
  3. Developing systemic support for science engagement efforts addresses the support structures for science engagement.