Last Saturday, I marched to support science in Washington, D.C. But I think the need for the march is partly the fault of scientists. We generally do not disseminate scientific discovery in simple, meaningful ways. Overall, we undervalue science outreach. Now we reap the consequences: a government that undervalues science.
I believe my Penn State bachelor of science degree may not prepare me for this future. Few science majors require an ethics class to discuss the role of science in society and the ethical obligations of scientists. Few undergraduate classes are offered in science outreach and none are required for most science majors. And, science majors who choose to pursue science outreach are often looked down upon as unable to handle the rigors of technical research. This is how we build our ivory tower.
Penn State has done an amazing job opening my eyes to the problems facing the world, but I want more tools to fix them. I want to learn to communicate the effects of climate change. I want to learn to communicate with politicians to generate policy based on factual evidence. I want to learn to be an engaged citizen as well as a research scientist.
Change starts here at Penn State. As a land grant institution, we must be a leader in science dissemination. Let’s build a curriculum that cultivates a generation of scientists who work to serve the general public with effective science communication.