Chief scientific officer for Scotland issues rallying cry to scientists
02 November 2006
The chief scientific advisor for Scotland has issued a rallying cry to the nation's scientists to do more to engage with the public.
Professor Anne Glover was speaking at the "Science and the Parliament" event at Our Dynamic Earth Centre, Edinburgh - organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry's parliamentary affairs team Stephen Benn and Julie Smart.
She said: "We all have a role to play to join up what happens every day in science and what the public know about science.
"Unless the public understand science how can we expect them to embrace it and endorse investment in it?"
Speaking to a pack house full of academics, representatives from science bodies and MSPs, Prof Glover added that it was vital that scientists in the nation collaborated with each other to share information.
She referred to the Stern Reporton the economics of Climate Change, citing it as an example of an area where a multi-disciplinary approach was essential - adding that Scotland could lead the way with renewable energy technology as it had with wave power, and there was a real opportunity to forge ahead and sell the technology to other nations.
Referring to the need to engage the public, Prof Glover said: "I estimate there are 50,000 scientists across all disciplines in Scotland. That means around 1 in 100 of us is a scientist of some description.
"These scientists need to meet with the public and explain why the work they do is so important.
She added: "We have enviable history of scientific achievement in Scotland.
Science is our future and we need that science to secure and underpin an enjoyable quality of life."
Prof Glover went on to outline the importance of science in all aspects of the Scottish Executive's work - from developing fishery policies through to helping tackle obesity and provide legal advice.
And she pointed to her department's consultation document "Science and Innovation Strategy for Scotland", among the aims of which are boosting science innovation and collaboration between business and academia, as well as modernising education and promoting science careers.
Prof Glover said: "We need to make kids realise science can be rewarding career - but they don't want a career that's just in safety goggles and a white coat.
"That part is fun, but what about visiting scientists in other nations, learning from each other and other disciplines. Every day is different -that's how we need to sell it."
Deputy first minister and science minister Nicol Stephen also spoke at the event.
He appealed to delegates to make science more enjoyable for the nation's children.
He said: "We need to make science more exciting and more fun. And if we can't respond to that challenge then we need to take a good look at ourselves."
MSPs Jamie Stone (SLD), David Davidson (Con), Dr Elaine Murray (Lab) Jim Mather (SNP) and Robin Harper (Green) also spoke on each of their party's policies for science ahead of next year's Scottish elections.
RSC chief executive Richard Pike, who spent two years in Aberdeen and four at Shetland during his 25 year career with oil giant BP, said: "As for any forward looking economy science innovation and education will be vital to the future success of Scotland.
"This event, now in its sixth year, throws open the debate on science in Scotland open to all quarters, and we and our partners look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish executive to help drive science forward in the country. "
The event, while led by the RSC, was organised jointly with the British Association for the Advancement of Science(BA), the Campaign for Science and Engineering, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Association of Science Education, the Society of Chemical Industry, the Society of General Microbiology and SCOTETA (The Engineering and Technology Association - Scotland).
Scottish Parliamentary Activities
Scottish Parliamentary Activities
Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change
Sir Nicholas Stern is Head of the Government Economics Service and Adviser to the Government on the economics of climate change and development
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