Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Challenge of Science and Civic Engagement

Many of the most complex and serious issues facing society today have significant technical and scientific dimensions: how to manage climate change, public health, loss of biodiversity, and dwindling natural resources, to name a few. These are not just technical or scientific issues, however. These are fundamentally social, political and economic problems with substantial ethical, moral and cultural dimensions.  Answers to these challenges require judgment, values and priorities in addition to empirical observation, experimental evidence, quantitative models and methods.

But no matter how you look at it, despite their utility in policy-making, the "hard sciences" are not always applied.  But why?  Although this is complicated and, for sure, there are many other factors, it's pretty safe to simply observe that, at the moment, scientists and their work are somewhat isolated from popular culture and the domain of policy decision-making.