Wherever possible, our work to engage people with chemistry is grounded in solid social science. Where that is not possible, we support programmes that will generate the necessary evidence.
Public attitudes to chemistry
Our long-term ambition is to shift the image of chemistry and raise the profile of chemists. Before we can try to do that it is critically important that we understand public attitudes towards chemistry and find out about people's knowledge, interest and engagement with the work that we all do. We must build our understanding of public opinion and exposure to chemistry.
We recently commissioned in-depth qualitative and quantitative research to investigate public attitudes to chemistry. This has allowed us to explore public opinion and the way people imagine chemistry, and will enable us to strategically focus our public activities to maximise our efforts.
Read about the research findings, and read RSC past president David Phillips’s response to the research.
Chemistry for All
Our five-year, £1 million Chemistry for All (CfA) project is exploring and addressing the barriers to progression in chemistry, including progression to undergraduate study. The project is providing a longitudinal programme of activities in schools, in contrast to the more common one-off chemistry enhancement and enrichment activities.
The university outreach programmes are run by teams with innovative approaches to widening participation in chemistry: Liverpool John Moores; Nottingham Trent; and Reading and Southampton in partnership. Each university is working with schools from local areas with low university applications.
A parallel research project run by a team from UCL Institute of Education is exploring the impact of the intervention programmes on the students who take part. Two cohorts of students have been followed from Year 8, to finish in 2019 when the first cohort are in Year 12. Intermediate findings are being published, with a final report due in 2020.
Find out more about Chemistry for All
Factors affecting public engagement by researchers
Together with 15 other organisations, we are researching how best to support public engagement with research. To help us understand the landscape, we are re-running the 2006 Royal Society Survey of factors affecting science communication to establish what has changed in the sector over the last 10 years, and to provide a benchmark for future developments.
The organisations involved are research funders including the Wellcome Trust, all four UK Funding Councils, and Research Councils UK, alongside learned societies such as ourselves, the Royal Society, and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
The report was published in December 2015.