Science and research are major contributors to the prosperity of the UK. For our prosperity to continue, the government believes we need high levels of skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and citizens that value them.
To engage the public in science and engineering we:
- hold the British Science Festival and the National Science and Engineering Week, events that promote science and raise the public’s awareness of science issues
- fund the work of 3 independent national academies: the Royal Society, the British Academy and the Royal Academy of Engineering
- make science and engineering policy decisions that are informed by monitoring public opinion
- promote science in schools and fund programmes and events that inspire students to study STEM subjects
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) undertook a review of the Science and Society Programme in 2012, in collaboration with the science community, business, educators, media and civil society groups.
Two key messages emerged:
- target new audiences - public engagement with science in general is gaining momentum but the current audience is largely already interested in science - there is a collective need to do more to take science to those not currently engaged
- engage with people where they naturally congregate, rather than expecting them to come to us
BIS led development of a Charter for Science and Society in the UK, to achieve the common aims developed through the review. We have launched the Community Challenge Grant Scheme as part of our commitment to this Charter.
This latest review and follow on activity builds on the work done in 2008 when the department ran the consultation Vision for science and society to find out how we should develop science skills, improve science communication and build public confidence in science.