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Science and society: A career and professional development course

Introduction

Unit image

Scientists throughout the world are increasingly interested in the relationship between science and society. Part of their concern is with the social responsibilities scientists have in relation to broader public interests. That raises important issues to do with the ethical and social dimension of scientists' work and how scientists explain – and perhaps justify – their work to the wider public. Indeed, no scientist today is locked within an ‘ivory tower’ of his or her making – scientists are looking to engage not just with fellow scientists – which has always been the case – but with new audiences, with different views and experiences of science. It's important that scientists have the opportunity to discuss these challenges about what their job entails with their colleagues and with those who teach and research issues of science communication, to share experiences and ideas. That's where we feel the materials here will help.

In February 2008, a 2-day ‘Science and Society’ residential course was held at the Open University campus in Milton Keynes, through the financial support of the Royal Society, and attended by 13 UK research scientists with an interest in these topics. A good deal of the material that we used to deliver this ‘pilot version’ of the course is here on this site and so freely available to all other interested parties – other scientists, policy-makers, science communication scholars and the like. We hope you will find it useful and perhaps an inspiration to set up comparable programmes of your own, that draw on these materials and ideas.

Our intention is that this site will grow and develop over time; we hope to build on the experience of jointly putting on more of these courses. Also, we’re hoping that those who attend these courses – and others who express an interest in what we are doing from afar – will contribute their own ideas or resources. If you would like to learn more about this project, please contact the OpenLearn site and we will do our best to get back to you.

A good place to start looking at our materials is the Preparatory Information section, which gives the aims of the course, plus the timetable. It also contains a number of links to Session commentaries that those who delivered this course have prepared. These Commentaries – which include a range of links to other useful sources and to OU teaching material already on the OpenLearn site – offer you (and those who attended the course) the opportunity to take your interest in this area a good deal further.

This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Science and society: a career and professional development course (SS) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this subject area [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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