Science Debate Goes International
News Release | June 11, 2010
Science Debate cofounder Shawn Lawrence Otto will speak at the EuroScience Open Forum in Torino, Italy on July 7. Otto will be a panelist on the plenary session "The missing mediator: Science debates in a knowledge based society," and will tell the European science audience about science in American policymaking and media.
"Since Science Debate 2008, science debates have been embraced in many European countries," said Otto. "The panel is an important discussion of the changing role of science in policymaking in the Century of Science, an exploration of current best practices in varying countries, and a discussion of next steps."
European countries that have organized or are organizing science debates since the American Science Debate 2008 include Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Sweden, as well as an overall EU initiative.
"Since Galileo, science has always been political," said Otto. "Any time we extend the bounds of our knowledge, we must refine our morals and ethics to account for the new knowledge, and that means policy and that is always political. We are now moving into an era where knowledge is exploding and the majority of policy questions our nations face revolve around science. The discussion is about how we achieve successful outcomes for both policymaking and science, while involving the broader public in both. It is one of the most important questions of the century, and we must solve it in order to address our major policy challenges across the planet."
"We are proud to have Shawn Otto with us over here in Europe to share the experiences of the US Science Debate with us", said Hanns-J. Neubert, President of the European Union of Science Journalists' Associations. "Although science in Europe is high on the political agenda, and a lot is done to support science in society, society in science still not adequately represented or heard. We want to change this, also by listening to best and successful practices."
Other panelists include:
- Hanns-Joachim Neubert, president of the European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations (EUSJA);
- Wolfgang Goede, of the German Association of Science Writers (TELI) and science editor of Germany's leading popular science magazine P.M. / Knowledge matters, and co-founder of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ); both co-organizers of the German Science Debate;
- Michele Ciavarella, engineer at Bari Polytechnic and organizer of the Italian Science Debate initiative at www.sciencedebate.it; and
- Barbara Drillsma, moderator, vice president of the European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations (EUSJA) and freelance journalist, UK.
From the panel description at ESOF:
Members of the German Science Writers TELI started a public science debate in the run-up to the German parliamentary elections 2009. They played out their role as mediators in society. Collecting wishes from scientists and science institutions, the journalists pooled the results and concentrated them into 15 questions which they put forward to candidates. The answers of the politicians were published on the web. This was the starting point of the public “Science Debate Germany 2009” between scientists, public and politicians, transported by the media.
The prototype was the “Science Debate 2008” developed by fellow journalists during the US elections with Barack Obama and John McCain. As a result Obama put science quite high on his agenda. And science became a public topic in a country where the public was considerably less informed about science than in Europe, and where the media strictly separated science and politics from each other.
The speakers will present the results of the science debates in the USA and Germany, look behind the myth that science and science journalism have to be unpolitical, discuss science PR in relation to cognisant decisions in a democratic society, and show options for similar debates in Europe to be performed by EUSJA. In smaller groups, the audience will discuss options for science debates in Europe, develop ideas for their improvement and questions from present scientists will be collected as a basis for debates about European science.