In many ways, science has never had it so good. Research budgets are as high as they’ve ever been and are still rising. And science and innovation are core themes of Labour’s third term agenda. But the relationship between science and wider society still needs work. Fewer people are becoming scientists, university departments are closing and there is lingering public unease about the way that science is governed.
This pamphlet argues that we need to find new ways of talking about and building ‘the public value of science’. Britain’s hope of becoming the best place in the world to do science rests as much on giving scientists the freedom and incentive to renew their institutions and practices, as it does on 10-year frameworks and R&D targets.
This in turn reinforces why we should engage the public in decisions about science. Public value provides a new justification for the engagement that will help renew science’s social contract. It enriches conversations between scientists, policymakers and the wider public, and encourages them to be about more than just competing views. Instead, dialogue can look at more fundamental questions: What drives scientists? Why do we do science? Where it is taking us? Who it is for?
James Wilsdon is Head of Science and Innovation at Demos. Brian Wynne is Professor of Science Studies at Lancaster University. Jack Stilgoe is a Researcher at Demos.
It includes a foreword by Professor Robert Winston.
This pamphlet was produced in partnership with the Sciencewise programme, BBSRC, Environment Agency, EPSRC, Practical Action and the British Association for the Advancement of Science.