COMMONS

Science communication inquiry launched

23 March 2016

The Science and Technology Committee launches an inquiry on how the Government, scientists, the media and others encourage and facilitate public awareness of – and engagement in – science.

Background

A 2014 BIS report on Public Attitudes to Science (PDF 3.11 MB) found that "the UK public are as enthusiastic about science as they have ever been" but also that there were persistent misconceptions about how scientists work, concerns about how well science is regulated and a low level of trust in mainstream science journalism.

In the 2010-15 Parliament, BIS undertook a Science and Society Programme in 2012, published Public understanding of science and engineering and developed a UK Charter for Science and Society. A number of science and research organisations also have public engagement/awareness programmes. Broadcasters also have a role: for example, the BBC Trust reviewed impartiality and accuracy of BBC science coverage in 2011 (PDF 1.04 MB), identifying a need to avoid giving "undue attention to marginal opinion".

Send written submissions

The Committee welcomes written submissions on how Government, scientists, the media and others encourage and facilitate public awareness of – and engagement in – science. Submissions might address the following issues:

  • The trends in attitudes to science, and public engagement with science. 
  • The balance of effort needed to increase public engagement in science by 'new audiences' and by the 'already interested'.
  • Any further steps needed by the media and broadcasters to improve the quality, accessibility and balance of their science coverage; and science coverage in broadcasters' programme-making. 
  • The communications strategies being taken to encourage young people to study STEM subjects in higher and further education, and to encourage those people towards STEM careers.
  • The extent to which public dialogue and consultation is being effectively used by Government in science and technology areas of policy-making.
  • The strategies and actions being taken by Government to foster public engagement and trust of science more widely, and high quality reporting of science in the media.

Send a written submission via the science communication inquiry page

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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