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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. Science and society: A career and professional development course, is a free course that explores this further.
The learning objectives of the course are to:
- begin to explore the roles and responsibilities of the modern scientist;
- help you to gain insights as a scientist into the social and ethical aspects of (your) scientific research;
- enable you to gain some understanding of the rationale and role of certain contemporary tools for science governance, especially public and stakeholder engagement/consultation;
- signpost opportunities for you to contribute to discussion and debate on the social and ethical aspects of science, either as a scientist (participating in debates about your scientific work) or as a citizen (participating outside of your scientific discipline).
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Introduction to the course
- 2 Preparing for the course
- 3 Timetable for the residential element of the course
- 4 References and further reading
- 5 Contributors to the course
- Keep on learning
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Science and society: A career and professional development course
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 free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Professional Development in Education courses or view the range of currently available OU Professional Development in Education courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 14th April 2011
Last updated on: Monday, 3rd December 2012
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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