To thrive, science needs the support of the society it serves, and that support must be cultivated. In 1848, a forward-looking group of scientists and advocates formed the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to promote cooperation across various scientific and technical fields and create an encouraging environment for the practice of science.
Today, however, in many places the appreciation, respect, and support for science need attention and renewal. Even as the practice of science becomes ever more advanced, the observations more precise, and the applications more prevalent, there are signs of public misapprehension, distrust, and eroding support. Who better to address this looming problem than AAAS? AAAS should remain the force for science.
The Council of Canadian Academies has released a report from the Expert Panel on the State of Canada’s Science Culture entitled Science Culture: Where Canada Stands. The report (In Focus, short version here) looks in-depth at science in Canadian culture. Although the expert panel likely has a slight bias towards Canada, it does not surprise me that Canada ranks so well in so many of the criteria. For example, Canada ranked first among populations with an interest in new scientific discoveries, populations with science literacy, and populations with the lowest reservations towards science. As expected, the United States was quite a bit lower than Canada in many rankings, including reservations towards science (11th, part of the reason CauseScience exists!). However, the United States did rank second for public support for government funding of scientific research (higher than 80% of the population)! I highly recommend taking a look at the In Focus or full version of the report for graphs of the rankings and lots of information about what a science culture is and how they looked at it. Many, many cool ideas here about science, culture, education, and society. It is a great resource! For a quick summary, news article here from TechVibes, and key findings below.
Canadians have positive attitudes towards science and technology and low levels of reservations about science compared with citizens of other countries.
Canadians exhibit a high level of engagement with science and technology relative to citizens of other countries.
Canadians’ level of science knowledge is on a par with or above citizens of other countries for which data are available.
Canada’s performance on indicators of science and technology skills development is variable compared with other OECD countries.