Science communication: a national priority, says French senate
France's commission for cultural affairs has published a report on science communication in which it states that conveying science to the masses should be made a national priority. Drafted by senate rapporteurs Ivan Renar and Marie-Christine Blandin, the report states that more should be done to bring science into the public sphere, given the important role that science and technology play in the evolution of the world and its people. 'Our society depends more and more on developments in science and technology. [...] The way we live our everyday lives, the rapid evolution of our planet, the emergence of new technical innovations affects everyone,' claims the report. Although recent public and political debates on issues like genetically modified organisms, genetic therapy, nuclear energy and electromagnetic waves of mobile telephones clearly demonstrate a growing desire among the public to know more about how science shapes their lives, the report claims that there is still a lack of communication between scientific experts and the public. To address this vacuum, the report sets out a number of recommendations and initiatives to increase the profile of science in the public sphere. Firstly, it calls on the government to make a global evaluation, as well as an individual evaluation, of the resources set aside to diffuse science related matters in each ministry. Secondly, the report insists upon the importance of reaching the widest public possible and illustrates this with a number of methods deployed by other European countries, namely the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, the UK, Spain, and Germany. These include setting up specific state supported science communication foundations and agencies; reorganising existing scientific institutes, and developing state 'science and society' programmes. 'Recognition of the importance of communicating science is a phenomena which goes beyond the boundaries of our country,' states the report. Specifically, the report encourages the use of mobile initiatives similar to those deployed in Ireland in recent year. An is the Pfizer science bus, which travels to primary schools across Ireland to give science information days. In addition to mobile initiatives, the report also calls on scientific museums and the City of Science in Paris to develop partnerships with regional and local outposts in order to make sure that scientific activities are extended to French citizens living outside the city limits. Finally, the media should take greater responsibility in conveying science to the public, by giving more air time to science and technology programmes on television and via other media channels, claims the report.