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中外学者携手提升公众科学素质

转载 2019-12-27 18:07:50

一个具有科学素质的社会对可持续发展至关重要。然而,公众却面临很多错误信息,包括假新闻和伪科学。10月,中国科学技术协会在北京主办了2019年世界公众科学素质促进大会,与会代表认为,需要共同努力匡正不准确信息传播的状况,帮助公众更好地了解科学。

 

据英国《自然》周刊网站1218日报道,南非开普敦大学数学家、国际科学理事会主席达亚·雷迪说:在科学教育、公共推广、社会学和行为科学的关系上,我们需要合作并制定有效的对策,确保决策者和公众能够区分科学共识和伪科学。

 

雷迪的主旨演讲得到了中国科协常务副主席怀进鹏的赞同。他表示,科学素质差距不断扩大,可能危及全世界的可持续发展和社会进步。期待与其他国家携手合作,努力提升公众科学素质。

 

雷迪强调,推广和参与扩大了全球支持科学的声音。这一点从教育者身上得到了证明,他们成功地彻底改变了科学在课堂上的教学方式。

 

中国学者王维(音)举了中国苏州第二中学的一个例子,该校让各个年级的学生参与天气监测等项目,锻炼他们对科学知识的实际操作能力。

 

在关于一带一路沿线国家科学博物馆合作的会议上,埃及亚历山大图书馆天文馆科学中心主任艾曼·埃尔赛义德讨论了国际交流的重要性。他说:除了两国专家培训交流,我们希望与中国的北京天文馆和其他机构合作,共同制作和分享高质量的科普资源。

 

在此次会议上,中国科学普及机构的负责人们还与尼泊尔、柬埔寨、俄罗斯和新加坡的相关机构签署了5项双边协议。

 

科学素质促进与可持续发展为主题,2019年的世界公众科学素质促进大会聚集了来自28个国家、35个国别科技组织和5个国际组织的600多名嘉宾和代表。

 

Sharing Knowledge in service of science

 

Building on last year’s success and the Beijing Declaration for Promoting Public Science Literacy across the world, the 2019 World Conference on Science Literacy (WCSL) highlighted the importance of accelerating international engagement and collaboration on science communication for the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. 

 

A scientifically literate society is central to sustainable development. Yet, the public is exposed to much misinformation, including fake news and pseudoscience. Collaborative efforts are needed to redress the flow of inaccurate information and help improve public understanding of science, delegates heard at the 2019 WCSL, hosted by the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) in Beijing in October. 

 

“At the nexus of science education, public outreach, sociology and behavioural sciences, we need to collaborate and develop effective responses to ensure that policymakers and the public are able to distinguish between scientific consensus and pseudoscience,” said Daya Reddy, a Cape Town University mathematician, and chairman of the International Science Council (ISC)’s founding General Assembly.

 

Reddy’s keynote speech was backed by Jinpeng Huai, CAST’s executive vice president, and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “A widening gap in science literacy could jeopardize sustainable development efforts and social advancement worldwide,” he said. “We look forward to joining forces with other nations to promote public science literacy.”

 

Bottom-up engagement through new learning models

 

Outreach and engagement amplifies a global voice for science, Reddy emphasized. This was demonstrated by educators who have succeeded in revolutionizing the way science is taught in classrooms.

 

Aurelio Vilbar, a professor of education from the Philippines, outlined his team’s development of their own science content for students. “Many existing textbooks we used were set in a Western context, which appears out of place to students,” he said. By incorporating students’ feedback, they have introduced local context and students’ interest areas to scientific content, including indigenous culture, gender empowerment, sustainability and environmental issues, improving learning outcomes.

 

Similarly, in Thailand, a multidisciplinary curriculum was set up, interweaving community issues with scientific topics, such as electricity and sustainability, explained Chanyah Dahsah from the Science Education Center at the Srinakharinwirot University. Wei Wang, offered a local example of how the No. 2 Middle School, in Suzhou, China, engages students of all levels to take part in weather monitoring and other projects to hone their hands-on science knowledge.

 

Beyond classrooms, institutions such as science museums play an important role in communication by crafting memorable and engaging experiences to stimulate students—and the public’s interest in science, according to Ayman Elsayed, director of Planetarium Science Center, Library of Alexandria in Egypt. In a session on science museum collaborations across Belt and Road countries, Elsayed also discussed the importance of international exchange.

 

“Together with the Beijing Planetarium and other institutions in China, we hope for joint production and sharing of high-quality popular science resources, in addition to expert training exchanges in both countries,” he said.

 

At the conference, leaders of Chinese science popularization facilities also signed five bilateral agreements with related organisations from Nepal, Cambodia, Russia and Singapore.

 

Strengthening the collaboration network with business leaders

 

Beyond government funding, corporate partnership can also contribute to scientific literacy. Athena Fund, an Israeli non-profit founded by business leaders, sets out to equip science teachers across the country with a portable, comprehensive science kit. “We are dedicated to empowering teachers to close the digital gap,” said Uri Ben-Ari, its president and founder. To date, Athena Fund has provided laptops, tablets and iPads, along with professional training, to some 23,600 school teachers across Israel.

 

Michael C. Mitchell, CEO of MCM group, has initiated various development plans across Tibet, to give to local communities sustainable infrastructure and cultural exchanges. “We are building the world’s highest sustainable community at 4,500 metres, with protective measures on biodiversity, soil improvement, and carbon emission reduction,” he said.

 

“We are also sharing relevant educational resources, and sending materials to 7,400 students in 58 local schools through collaborations with local governments and education providers.”

 

An exhibition zone, in particular, charted the effort of promoting public science literacy in Western China. An encouraging result is improvements in local environments, according to senior forestry engineer and landscape architect, Zhaoxia Liu. “Enterprises have helped grow local eco-tourism,” she said.

 

In Inner Mongolia, for example, a large reforestation area was created, leading to 150 new positions for local herders.

 

Rethinking science communication

 

From addressing desertification and climate change, to eradicating diseases, scientists have a role in public discourse, according to Reddy. “As researchers, we have to defend the scientific method, articulate the values of science, and convey how science works.”

 

Colin Blakemore, a neuroscience professor from City University of Hong Kong, also emphasized the duty of scientists as public intellectuals. He introduced a case study on bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease, about which a delay in knowledge dissemination led to a higher death toll than would have been the case, if information had been shared transparently.

 

Greater transparency is also required for gaining public support for animal testing. “As our scientific community opened up to the public to how animals are treated and why we need to perform the experiments, we gradually won more crowds over to our side,” said Blakemore. 

 

“When engaging those who do not think like us, we should be aware of how our scientific communication is framed,” said Lisa Bailey, president of the Australian Science Communicators. Her suggestion was to nurture more specialized science journalists.

 

With a theme of ‘Science Literacy for Sustainable Development’, 2019 WCSL gathered more than 600 guests and representatives of 35 national S&T organizations from 28 countries. “Our conference is just the beginning,” said Reddy. “My hope is that our guests will return next year with new perspectives and inspirations.”

 

 As an organization of scientists and engineers, CAST hopes to join hands with counterparts from all over the world to improve public science literacy, said Gang Wan, vice chairman of CPPCC and president of CAST. “Together, we will promote the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and make positive contributions to sustainable development.”


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