What does it mean to be science literate? How science literate
is the American public? How do we stack up against other countries? What
are the civic implications of a public with limited knowledge of science
and how it works? How is science literacy measured?
These and other questions are under the microscope of a 12-member
National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel – including University of
Wisconsin-Madison Life Sciences Communication Professor Dominique
Brossard and School of Education Professor Noah Feinstein – charged with
sorting through the existing data on American science and health literacy
and exploring the association between knowledge of science and public
perception of and support for science.
“The goal is to try and get the big picture,” says Brossard, a noted
social scientist and expert on science communication. “We’re not looking
at any single area of science and it is a consensus report, meaning we
all have to agree, assuring multiple perspectives will be reflected in
the final product.”
The committee – composed of educators, scientists, physicians and social
scientists – will take a hard look at the existing data on the state of
U.S. science literacy, the questions asked, and the methods used to
measure what Americans know and don’t know about science and how that
knowledge has changed over time. Critically for science, the panel will
explore whether a lack of science literacy is associated with decreased
public support for science or research.
For additional information on the panel, read the full press release on the UW-Madison News website.