Two faculty serve on new NAS committees on science communication and literacy

The Department of Life Sciences Communication is continuing its strong involvement in the National Academy of Sciences as chair Dominique Brossard and professor Dietram Scheufele have each been asked by the National Research Council to serve on new committees. Brossard is on a committee exploring “Science Literacy and Public Perception of Science,” while Scheufele is vice-chairing “The Science of Science Communication: A Research Agenda” with former AAAS CEO Alan Leshner.

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Dominique Brossard, LSC Chair

“Science Literacy and Public Perception of Science” will analyze data about science and health literacy and also how, or if, they are linked to public support of scientific issues. It will formulate a final report on the state of science literacy research and also identify research holes where more work needs to be done.

“Science literacy can be a complex issue,” Brossard explained. “What do people need to know about science? It’s really a philosophical question. This committee will address that question and sort through current research on the topic and also explore the potential link between scientific literacy and public attitudes and behavior.”

While Scheufele has been involved in NAS-related efforts on the “The Science of Science Communication” before, this NRC committee will set out a comprehensive research agenda to “connect the community doing social science to those practicing science communication every day,” he said.

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Dietram Scheufele, LSC Professor

“The report the committee will put out sometime this year will say what we know about effective modes of science communication, with outcomes including better understanding the policy-relevant aspects of science among lay audiences, more effective recruitment into STEM fields, and informing policy makers about the best science available,” Scheufele said. “We want to make the field of science communication more scientific.”

Both NRC projects invite public feedback on their websites so individuals can participate in the discussions surrounding science communication and science literacy.

“LSC is clearly the research leader on these important questions,” Brossard said. “We are excited to see two of our faculty help NAS and the nation find answers to them.”