Is there a need for a revolution in the way that science is done? Science thrives on the open exchange of ideas and data, but needs to revisit how these principles apply in the digital age and against the rising expectation of transparency and increased access to scientists' work from colleagues and the public. What should the principle of openness be? The Royal Society, London is grappling with these issues in an ongoing study: Science as a public enterprise. Professor Geoffrey Boulton FRS FRSE road tested the group's emerging conclusions in a discussion at the RSE. The panel also included Sir Ken Calman KCB FRSE, Professor Steve Yearley FRSE and Professor Graeme Laurie FMedSci FRSE. The discussion was chaired by Professor Wilson Sibbett CBE FRS FRSE.
In its recent report Facing up to climate change: breaking the barriers to a low-carbon Scotland, the RSE identified land use as being key to a low-carbon future. With the publication earlier this year of the Scottish Government’s Land Use Strategy, this event was an opportunity to reflect on the role of land use in mitigating and adapting to climate change and, more widely, how Scotland can use its land resources for maximum benefit in the future.
This event was a mix of speakers, panels and audience discussion.
This year's event, organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry and supported by the RSE, focused on the contribution of science and engineering to the Scottish economy and what policy levers can be pulled to stimulate these sectors. Key speakers included Professor David Phillips, President of the RSC, John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, Professor Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government, Douglas Fraser, Economics and Business Editor for BBC Scotland, Professor Alice Brown, General Secretary of the RSE and Professor Lesley Yellowlees, President-Elect of the RSC.
In addition to the economy sessions delegates also heard presentations from school students on the International Year of Chemistry Global Water Experiment; and awards were made to the highest achieving school students in Advanced Higher Chemistry and Physics, as well as to a university student who had won a Society of Biology prize.
The event was also used to announce the winner of the RSE/BP Hutton Prize in Energy Innovation which was awarded to Dr David Wright of the University of Edinburgh.
Professor Aubrey Manning OBE FRSE, Professor Emeritus of Natural History, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh. Winner of the 2011 Beltane Senior Prize for Public Engagement.
Good communication between scientists and the public at large can be enjoyable for both sides and I believe there are fewer barriers than we are often led to believe. The past half century has seen much achievement of this type. However, communicating science should not be just about understanding its findings but also about recognising its human position. The practise of science in all its diversity is a human activity and, for all that its nature demands a certain approach, its procedures and achievements involve all aspects of our humanity - the emotions and feelings as well as the intellect. It is part of our culture.