Science and Society
M.Sc., M.Ed., JRF & NET
Assistant Professor in Physical Science, Arafa Institute for Teacher Education
Science as a social Endeavor
Science is a social endeavor like all other human activity. Science as a social endeavor means the application of science to figuring out how the world works/exists/originated etc. Another dimension of Science as a social endeavor is to solve various problems, satisfy various needs and sustainable development of society with the help of scientific knowledge. The study of science as a social endeavor has a prominent place in any curriculum that has ‘science literacy’ as one of its aims. Development of Scientific literacy is considered to be the major aim of studying science as a social endeavor.
Scientific literacy is defined as "the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision-making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity”. (National Academy of Sciences).
Scientific literacy is also defined as: "the capacity to use scientific knowledge, to identify questions and to draw evidence-based conclusions in order to understand and help make decisions about the natural world and the changes made to it through human activity." (Programe for International Student Assessment (PISA))
Daily we read and hear stories about global warming, cloning, genetically modified foods, space exploration, the collection and use of DNA evidence and new drugs that will improve the quality of life and make us look years younger. As a consumer, and as a citizen, we need to critically evaluate the claims made in the name of science and make informed decisions and choices about these and other science based issues. In short, we need to be scientifically literate and more importantly we need to develop scientifically literate students.
A scientifically literate student is able to apply their knowledge of scientific concepts and processes to the evaluation of issues and problems that may arise and to the decisions that they make in their daily life, about the natural world and changes made to it through human activity.
Characteristics of scientifically literate students
Students who are scientifically literate:
· Know and understand the scientific concepts and processes required for participation in society
· Ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about their world
· Describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena
· Read with understanding science articles in the popular press and engage in social conversation about the validity of the conclusions
· Identify scientific issues underlying national and local decisions
· Express positions that are scientifically and technologically informed
· Evaluate the quality of scientific information on the basis of its source and the methods used to generate it
· Pose and evaluate arguments based on evidence and apply conclusions from such arguments appropriately