Public understanding of science and technology


NASA has decided to cut by 50% the next two-year budget for the Astrobiology Institute (NAI), and for all of the studies on life in outer space. This reduction follows an announcement made by Dr Michael Griffin, the Administrator of the space agency of the United States Government when, in addressing the Mars Society last summer, he clearly stated that xenobiology studies are marginal to the mission of NASA.


This paper summarizes key findings from a web-based questionnaire survey among Danish scientists in the natural sciences and engineering science. In line with the Act on Universities of 2003 enforcing science communication as a university obligation next to research and teaching, the respondents take a keen interest in communicating science, especially through the news media. However, they also do have mixed feeling about the quality of science communication in the news. Moreover, a majority of the respondents would like to give higher priority to science communication. More than half reply that they are willing to allocate up to 2% of total research funding in Denmark to science communication. Further, the respondents indicate that they would welcome a wider variety of science communication initiatives aimed at many types of target groups. They do not see the news media as the one and only channel for current science communication.


We inhabit an age in which economic progress in the European Union is equalized to more European research and better communication of that European research to the public. In highly developed Western democracies this implies an important role for the public as well as the mass media, both actors in a transforming public sphere. Beyond a call for more communication and more scientific literacy, the discourse has shifted to a call for more engagement and more participation on behalf of the citizen. There is a widespread sentiment however that the discipline of science communication is at a crossroads. In this paper it is argued that in a context of life politics and an increasing displacement of politics, one has to account for the trajectories of issue formation and the detours of public-ization to understand the dynamics of techno-scientific issues.


This item is available only in the original language


This item is available only in the original language


Most universities in the United States have little or no idea about how the public perceives the importance of research done at these institutions. Learning whether the public believes academic research is valuable, meaningful, and practical has implications for higher education, if the public believes that university research is of little worth. This project utilized naturalistic and qualitative methods to learn how alumni perceived the importance of research at a major public university with a heavy concentration in research (Texas A&M University). Long interviews using open-ended questions were conducted with 133 alumni at 33 locations in Texas. Interviews were transcribed, unitized, and coded using qualitative methods, and themes were identified. Findings provide insights into whether the public believes university research is important, how the public learns about research, whether public relations programs are effective, the importance of research and teaching, and the types of research the public wants universities to pursue. A framework is proposed to learn about how well the public understands science and to measure the effectiveness of media and education programs to raise both science awareness and understanding of science.


This item is available only in the original language.


Popularising mathematics requires a preliminary reflection on language and terms, the choice of which results from underlying dynamics. The aim of this article is to start an overall analysis of the conditions influencing this linguistic choice.


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