DIUS: 'A vision for Science and society'

27 October 2008

The Royal Society responded to the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills (DIUS) consultation 'A vision for science and society'. DIUS issued the consultation to help develop a new science and society strategy for the UK. Our response is in four parts.

We first note that it is encouraging that Government is looking to bring together and learn from the considerable experience developed amongst stakeholders. The new strategy presents an opportunity for Government to consider activities that sustain and build on existing good practice, and to provide strategic parameters, resources and support.

We then ask that Government explain how the science and society strategy is to be aligned and integrated with broader Government frameworks for science and innovation, such as that contained in the DIUS white paper Innovation Nation and in the work undertaken by the Technology Strategy Board.

Thirdly we ask that Government gives greater thought to its overall vision for science and society. Whilst we share a commitment to achieving the broad proposed vision and we explain how it aligns with our own goals to inspire an interest in science and to invigorate science and mathematics education, we note the Government's vision goes only part way to our. It leaves little room, for example, for reflective and critical forms of public engagement with science, and for scientists to talk about the choices they are making, and the purposes to which their work might be directed. Gaining a richer understanding of the complex relations between science and society, and between publics and science, serves an important function in our goal to influence policy-making with the best scientific advice. Further, developing a more substantial and authentic debate on issues raised by science is in the best interests of science, and of an enlightened democracy.

Finally, our submission answers questions posed in the consultation document on: engagement and interactions between scientists, policy-makers and the public; the role of science centres; science education; science base; and measuring impact.