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Science communication is more important
than ever before: scientific journals and
much more
Science for Resilient Food, Nutrition and Livelihoods:
Contemporary Challenges
MSSRF, Chennai
August 8, 2020
Bruce Alberts
Professor of Science and Education
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
On frequent visits to Chennai that began in January
1999, I saw how science was being used to improve
livelihoods by the M.S. Swaminathan Research
Foundation
• This had profound effects on how I view the role of science
in society, as well as on the work of the US National
Academy of Sciences, where I was then serving as
president (1993-2005)
Pondicherry, 1999
Village Knowledge Workers
A science franchise that produces parasitic wasps
Banks that spread science through small-scale loans
The path-breaking
report from the
National Academies
that introduced the
term “sustainability
science”
From India, I also learned that we need much
more of the creativity, rationality, openness,
and tolerance that are inherent to science ---
what Prime Minister Nehru called
a scientific temper – not only for the US
and India, but also for all other nations
Some Values of Science
• Honesty
• Generosity
• A strong demand for evidence, with openness
to all ideas and opinions irrespective
of their source
“The society of scientists is simple because it has a
directing purpose: to explore the truth. Nevertheless,
it has to solve the problem of every society, which is
to find a compromise between the individual and the
group. It must encourage the single scientist to be
independent, and the body of scientists to be
tolerant.
.
Science has humanized our values. Men (and
women!) have asked for freedom, justice and respect
precisely as the scientific spirit has spread among
them.”
Jacob Bronowski, Science and Human Values, 1956
On scientific values: my favorite quote
The last of my 12 annual speeches to the 2000
members of the US National Academy of Sciences
reflecting many lessons learned in India
I want to thank you for the education and the inspiration that you have
provided to me and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences over the course
of the past 8 years. Through your wisdom and example, you have made
us aware of the enormous good that can be provided to the world’s
poor through both science and the work of scientists.
You have thereby helped us to realize that the potential span of science is
much greater than we had imagined, giving scientists the opportunity to be
an even greater force for progress in the world.
From my letter to M.S Swaminathan on the
occasion of his 80th birthday, August 2005
(written when I was president of the US National Academy of Sciences)
I later used what I had
learned at the
Academy as the
Editor-in-Chief of
Science magazine
(2008-2013)
Editorial by Swaminathan
C.N.R. Rao
A Young Academy for India
Raghunath
Mashelkar
My final issue of
Science
May 31, 2013
Based on an April 2013
trip to India with Science
news staff
As a community effort, it is a remarkable human invention,
less than 400 years old
“Today, we take it for granted that the Institution of Science has in place
incentives which encourage researchers to disclose their findings for
public use. But the emergence of those social contrivances which embody
those incentives was not inevitable… It required the collective efforts of
scientists and their patrons to establish them.
The social contrivances I am referring to, namely, peer-group esteem,
medals, scrolls and the like, are remarkable precisely because they don’t
involve much resources. To enable the contrivances to be effective has
required that a considerable part of a scientist’s education involves
developing a taste for non-monetary rewards.
Thus, the Institution of Science embodies a set of cultural values in need
of constant protection.”
Partha Dasgupta, 1999
BUT WHAT IS SCIENCE?
As Dasgupta emphasizes, there are many cultural values that
scientists must constantly work to protect
• There is always more that can and should be done to
enforce scientific standards by the scientific community.
• Here I shall focus on scientific publishing.
INSPIRED BY A VISIT TO INDIA: The hybrid Open Access/Open Archive
publishing model of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
• Immediately free to everyone in 139 developing nations.
• Free after 6 months everywhere else.
Improving scientific publication will require making
what scientists publish more widely accessible
Improving scientific publication will also require making
what scientists publish more rapidly accessible
The rationale for greatly expanding the use of preprint servers in
biology
Improving scientific publication will also require improving
standards for peer review
It is important to stop the Predatory Scientific Journals
A new Project of the InterAcademy Partnership
Project Goals:
Co-chairs from South Africa and Bangladesh,
to be completed by December 2021
• The physicist Pierre Hohenberg has pointed out that it
is critical to distinguish “between the activity of
scientists and the product of that activity by denoting
the former as (lower-case) science and the latter as
(upper-case) Science.”
• In this view, “Science emerges from science” as
“collective, public knowledge…universal and free of
contradiction” only after being repeatedly tested by
independent scientific investigations.
Some thoughts on science communication
• The success of Science over the past three centuries
has enabled humans to reach a remarkable
understanding of the natural world.
• This understanding makes our lives much more stable
and predictable.
• Individuals, communities, and nations must all make wise
long-range decisions based on what scientists do and do not
know.
• Everyone therefore needs to understand the difference
between science and Science and the critical, evidence-
based process of getting from one to the other.
BUT:
• It is deeply discouraging that in the United States today,
many political leaders feel comfortable denying what
Science knows – on issues that range from protecting us
from the COVID-19 virus to climate change.
• The acceptability of this stance is a danger to any
democracy, and it represents a general failure of both
science education and science communication.
WHAT TO DO?
To create a scientific temper for the world, we
need a new type of science education for all
“One of the only two articles that remain in my creed of life is
that the future of our civilization depends upon the widening
spread and deepening hold of the scientific habit of mind; and
that the problem of problems in our education is therefore to
discover how to mature and make effective this scientific habit.”
John Dewey, 1910
Every Child a Scientist: What science should
look like in school
12 year-old students in San Francisco
A basic principle:
At all levels, teachers should make students
struggle with a problem before they are told
the answer.
Research shows that this is a powerful way to
generate deeper learning.
What 5 year olds can do
1) Put on clean white socks and walk around school yard.
2) In class, collect all black specks stuck to socks and try
to classify them: which are seeds and which are dirt?
3) Start by examining each speck with a 3 dollar, plastic
“microscope”.
4) End by planting both those specks believed to be dirt
and those believed to be seeds, thereby testing their
own idea that the regularly shaped ones are seeds.
• Great problem solvers in the workplace
• People who are able to make wise judgments for
their family, their community, and their nation
• Adults who reject “MAGICAL THINKING”
The Vision for Such “Inquiry Based” Science Education
Imagine an education that includes solving hundreds of
such challenges over the course of 13 years of school.
I believe that children who are prepared for life in this way
would be:
To remove a major barrier to progress at the
precollege level, science education at the
college level must change
Active learning in college biology class
36
200-page
publication from
the US National
Academies,
designed for
college faculty
FREE PDF
DOWNLOADS
at www.nap.edu
Four increasingly ambitious goals for science
education
1. Provide all adults with a general sense of what scientists
have discovered about the world. (The vast expanse of the
universe, all life is made of cells, the dangers of greenhouse
gas accumulation in the atmosphere, etc.)
THIS HAS LONG BEEN A STANDARD VIEW OF THE
PURPOSE OF SCIENCE EDUCATION
2. Provide all adults with an ability to investigate scientific
problems as scientists do, using logic, experiment, and
evidence.
THIS IS A FOCUS OF INQUIRY BASED SCIENCE EDUCATION
Four increasingly ambitious goals for science
education (continued)
3. Provide all adults with an understanding of how the scientific
enterprise works – and why they should therefore trust the
consensus judgements of science on issues like smoking,
vaccination, and climate change.
WE NEED A MUCH STRONGER FOCUS ON THIS GOAL
HOW BEST TO DO?
4. Provide all adults with the habit of solving their everyday
problems as scientists do, using logic, experiment, and evidence.
THIS WILL REQUIRE A TRANSFERENCE FROM WHAT IS
LEARNED IN SCIENCE CLASS TO GENERAL HABITS OF MIND
HOW BEST TO DO?
Here is one: A NEW PROJECT OF THE WORLDS SCIENCE ACADEMIES
To achieve these critical, ambitious goals,
scientists must promote many new experiments
Free curricula designed to empower youth ages 8-17
to use science for social good, in many languages:
©2019 Smithsonian Science Education Center
Examples of what students do in groups:
q Map their community.
q Determine where
mosquitoes live in their
community.
q Investigate how to
control the mosquito
population near their
school, museum, or
neighborhood.
Students in Panama
and Malawi using the
“Mosquito!” curriculum
Science for Global Goals
The promise of world science collaboration
Science academy
presidents
An important tool for strengthening science
– both in each nation and across the globe –
is the formation of “Young Academies”
The first Young Academy was
formed in Germany in 1995. To
date, 40 nations have formed such
academies.
A Global Young Academy
headquartered in Berlin works to
support this new idea
(www.globalyoungacademy.net).
Scotland
South
Africa
India is one of 40 nations with a Young Academy,
And a US member will hopefully be announced soon.
The world badly needs their energy and insights!
To create a scientific temper for the world,
the challenges ahead for scientists are
enormous
But -- inspired by M.S. Swaminathan’s
great accomplishments, his vision and his
energy – we shall find a way.
Happy 95th birthday!
Science knows no
country..
Knowledge belongs to
humanity..
It’s the torch that
illuminates the world.
Louis Pasteur
Dr. Bruce Alberts  Special Lecture, on August 8, 2020

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Dr. Bruce Alberts Special Lecture, on August 8, 2020

  • 1. Science communication is more important than ever before: scientific journals and much more Science for Resilient Food, Nutrition and Livelihoods: Contemporary Challenges MSSRF, Chennai August 8, 2020 Bruce Alberts Professor of Science and Education University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
  • 2. On frequent visits to Chennai that began in January 1999, I saw how science was being used to improve livelihoods by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation • This had profound effects on how I view the role of science in society, as well as on the work of the US National Academy of Sciences, where I was then serving as president (1993-2005)
  • 5. A science franchise that produces parasitic wasps
  • 6. Banks that spread science through small-scale loans
  • 7.
  • 8. The path-breaking report from the National Academies that introduced the term “sustainability science”
  • 9. From India, I also learned that we need much more of the creativity, rationality, openness, and tolerance that are inherent to science --- what Prime Minister Nehru called a scientific temper – not only for the US and India, but also for all other nations
  • 10. Some Values of Science • Honesty • Generosity • A strong demand for evidence, with openness to all ideas and opinions irrespective of their source
  • 11. “The society of scientists is simple because it has a directing purpose: to explore the truth. Nevertheless, it has to solve the problem of every society, which is to find a compromise between the individual and the group. It must encourage the single scientist to be independent, and the body of scientists to be tolerant. . Science has humanized our values. Men (and women!) have asked for freedom, justice and respect precisely as the scientific spirit has spread among them.” Jacob Bronowski, Science and Human Values, 1956 On scientific values: my favorite quote
  • 12. The last of my 12 annual speeches to the 2000 members of the US National Academy of Sciences reflecting many lessons learned in India
  • 13. I want to thank you for the education and the inspiration that you have provided to me and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences over the course of the past 8 years. Through your wisdom and example, you have made us aware of the enormous good that can be provided to the world’s poor through both science and the work of scientists. You have thereby helped us to realize that the potential span of science is much greater than we had imagined, giving scientists the opportunity to be an even greater force for progress in the world. From my letter to M.S Swaminathan on the occasion of his 80th birthday, August 2005 (written when I was president of the US National Academy of Sciences)
  • 14. I later used what I had learned at the Academy as the Editor-in-Chief of Science magazine (2008-2013) Editorial by Swaminathan
  • 16. A Young Academy for India Raghunath Mashelkar
  • 17. My final issue of Science May 31, 2013 Based on an April 2013 trip to India with Science news staff
  • 18. As a community effort, it is a remarkable human invention, less than 400 years old “Today, we take it for granted that the Institution of Science has in place incentives which encourage researchers to disclose their findings for public use. But the emergence of those social contrivances which embody those incentives was not inevitable… It required the collective efforts of scientists and their patrons to establish them. The social contrivances I am referring to, namely, peer-group esteem, medals, scrolls and the like, are remarkable precisely because they don’t involve much resources. To enable the contrivances to be effective has required that a considerable part of a scientist’s education involves developing a taste for non-monetary rewards. Thus, the Institution of Science embodies a set of cultural values in need of constant protection.” Partha Dasgupta, 1999 BUT WHAT IS SCIENCE?
  • 19. As Dasgupta emphasizes, there are many cultural values that scientists must constantly work to protect • There is always more that can and should be done to enforce scientific standards by the scientific community. • Here I shall focus on scientific publishing.
  • 20. INSPIRED BY A VISIT TO INDIA: The hybrid Open Access/Open Archive publishing model of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences • Immediately free to everyone in 139 developing nations. • Free after 6 months everywhere else. Improving scientific publication will require making what scientists publish more widely accessible
  • 21. Improving scientific publication will also require making what scientists publish more rapidly accessible The rationale for greatly expanding the use of preprint servers in biology
  • 22. Improving scientific publication will also require improving standards for peer review It is important to stop the Predatory Scientific Journals
  • 23. A new Project of the InterAcademy Partnership
  • 24. Project Goals: Co-chairs from South Africa and Bangladesh, to be completed by December 2021
  • 25. • The physicist Pierre Hohenberg has pointed out that it is critical to distinguish “between the activity of scientists and the product of that activity by denoting the former as (lower-case) science and the latter as (upper-case) Science.” • In this view, “Science emerges from science” as “collective, public knowledge…universal and free of contradiction” only after being repeatedly tested by independent scientific investigations. Some thoughts on science communication
  • 26. • The success of Science over the past three centuries has enabled humans to reach a remarkable understanding of the natural world. • This understanding makes our lives much more stable and predictable.
  • 27. • Individuals, communities, and nations must all make wise long-range decisions based on what scientists do and do not know. • Everyone therefore needs to understand the difference between science and Science and the critical, evidence- based process of getting from one to the other.
  • 28. BUT: • It is deeply discouraging that in the United States today, many political leaders feel comfortable denying what Science knows – on issues that range from protecting us from the COVID-19 virus to climate change. • The acceptability of this stance is a danger to any democracy, and it represents a general failure of both science education and science communication. WHAT TO DO?
  • 29. To create a scientific temper for the world, we need a new type of science education for all “One of the only two articles that remain in my creed of life is that the future of our civilization depends upon the widening spread and deepening hold of the scientific habit of mind; and that the problem of problems in our education is therefore to discover how to mature and make effective this scientific habit.” John Dewey, 1910
  • 30. Every Child a Scientist: What science should look like in school 12 year-old students in San Francisco
  • 31. A basic principle: At all levels, teachers should make students struggle with a problem before they are told the answer. Research shows that this is a powerful way to generate deeper learning.
  • 32. What 5 year olds can do 1) Put on clean white socks and walk around school yard. 2) In class, collect all black specks stuck to socks and try to classify them: which are seeds and which are dirt? 3) Start by examining each speck with a 3 dollar, plastic “microscope”. 4) End by planting both those specks believed to be dirt and those believed to be seeds, thereby testing their own idea that the regularly shaped ones are seeds.
  • 33. • Great problem solvers in the workplace • People who are able to make wise judgments for their family, their community, and their nation • Adults who reject “MAGICAL THINKING” The Vision for Such “Inquiry Based” Science Education Imagine an education that includes solving hundreds of such challenges over the course of 13 years of school. I believe that children who are prepared for life in this way would be:
  • 34. To remove a major barrier to progress at the precollege level, science education at the college level must change
  • 35. Active learning in college biology class
  • 36. 36 200-page publication from the US National Academies, designed for college faculty FREE PDF DOWNLOADS at www.nap.edu
  • 37. Four increasingly ambitious goals for science education 1. Provide all adults with a general sense of what scientists have discovered about the world. (The vast expanse of the universe, all life is made of cells, the dangers of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere, etc.) THIS HAS LONG BEEN A STANDARD VIEW OF THE PURPOSE OF SCIENCE EDUCATION 2. Provide all adults with an ability to investigate scientific problems as scientists do, using logic, experiment, and evidence. THIS IS A FOCUS OF INQUIRY BASED SCIENCE EDUCATION
  • 38. Four increasingly ambitious goals for science education (continued) 3. Provide all adults with an understanding of how the scientific enterprise works – and why they should therefore trust the consensus judgements of science on issues like smoking, vaccination, and climate change. WE NEED A MUCH STRONGER FOCUS ON THIS GOAL HOW BEST TO DO? 4. Provide all adults with the habit of solving their everyday problems as scientists do, using logic, experiment, and evidence. THIS WILL REQUIRE A TRANSFERENCE FROM WHAT IS LEARNED IN SCIENCE CLASS TO GENERAL HABITS OF MIND HOW BEST TO DO?
  • 39. Here is one: A NEW PROJECT OF THE WORLDS SCIENCE ACADEMIES To achieve these critical, ambitious goals, scientists must promote many new experiments
  • 40. Free curricula designed to empower youth ages 8-17 to use science for social good, in many languages:
  • 41. ©2019 Smithsonian Science Education Center Examples of what students do in groups: q Map their community. q Determine where mosquitoes live in their community. q Investigate how to control the mosquito population near their school, museum, or neighborhood. Students in Panama and Malawi using the “Mosquito!” curriculum
  • 42.
  • 44. The promise of world science collaboration Science academy presidents
  • 45. An important tool for strengthening science – both in each nation and across the globe – is the formation of “Young Academies” The first Young Academy was formed in Germany in 1995. To date, 40 nations have formed such academies. A Global Young Academy headquartered in Berlin works to support this new idea (www.globalyoungacademy.net). Scotland South Africa
  • 46. India is one of 40 nations with a Young Academy, And a US member will hopefully be announced soon. The world badly needs their energy and insights!
  • 47. To create a scientific temper for the world, the challenges ahead for scientists are enormous But -- inspired by M.S. Swaminathan’s great accomplishments, his vision and his energy – we shall find a way.
  • 48. Happy 95th birthday! Science knows no country.. Knowledge belongs to humanity.. It’s the torch that illuminates the world. Louis Pasteur