Share why you are doing PES events and what your goals are on this page.

In various meetings and readings recently, I have heard people suggest different reasons for public engagement with science. Here are a few:
  1. To gain public support for science in general or for some specific area or activity in science or technology
  2. To educate the public, to give them tools -- knowledge and skills so that they will make better decisions in their own lives
  3. To inform scientists and policymakers with public views so they will make better decisions on their own work
  4. To build bridges between the science community and the public -- a collaborative work environment for dealing with science related issues today and tomorrow
  5. To establish a system of anticipatory governance that provides knowledge, tools, attitudes, relationships, and activities that supports decisions by people everywhere in the various roles they play in life that in various ways affect the future.
  6. To coordinate an effort that involves government, industry, academia, and the public around specific current and serious problems that require system wide collaboration such as global climate change.

Here are some more detailed entries about goals for PES that come from various projects and publications. Please add yours.
  • We got started with forum programs because we were adopting a plan to include informal technology education with informal science education in the museum. So when we looked at both content knowledge and thinking skills, decision-making became an important one. We came across this quote in Science for All Americans, published by the AAAS in 1989. Engineering decisions, whether in designing an airplane bolt or an irrigation system, inevitably involve social and personal values as well as scientific judgments. So we started to look for informal education methods that would bring science and social and personal values together for decision-making and came across folks from North Carolina State University talking about citizen consensus conferences in Denmark and that launched us on a string of experiments that engaged the pubic in dialogue and deliberation about the societal implications of technological innovations or applications. -- Larry Bell, Museum of Science
  • Here's a set of goals Christine Reich organized for the NISE Net Forum team at the beginning as it was trying to sort through its goals for nano forums. -- Larry Bell, Museum of Science

  • In 2003, Daniel Yankelovich, Chairman of Public Agenda, wrote that

    In today's public domain, scientists are highly respected but not nearly as influential as they should be. In the arena of public policy, their voices are mostly marginalized....The overall result is a dangerous exclusion of the scientific viewpoint from political and economic decisionmaking at the very time when that viewpoint is most urgently needed.

    Part of the problem . . . is that scientists persist in thinking that the goal of public engagement is to raise the level of scientific literacy.
    This assumption misses the point. Citizens do not need to be second-hand scientists. But they do need to be able to make sound judgments about science policy choices, ranging from global warming and genetically modified foods to nuclear proliferation and human cloning.


    He argues that public engagement should be aimed at helping the public make sound judgments about science policy choices and that if done right this would strengthen the influence of science in political and economic decisionmaking.

    Here's the article: