A pathway to inquiry-based teaching

Delivering a quality science education is key. It can contribute to ensuring that pupils elect to study science when reaching university. Unfortunately, science is often thought of as being somewhat ‘not exciting’, if not downright ruled out for being ‘too difficult.’ Yet, this image is partly due to the way science is taught in schools. Consequently, a renewed educational trend recommends teaching science by inquiry to stimulate pupils’ interest.

Free to Think: Attacks on Scholars, Scientists threaten Societies Everywhere

Scholars at Risk’s latest Free to Think 2019 report describes the contours of a global phenomenon of attacks on higher education that impacts scientists everywhere. These attacks hamper scientific progress across the globe and challenge everyone’s right to think and share ideas. Given the gravity of this phenomenon, the report sets out tangible actions stakeholders including students, universities, faculty, and scientific associations can take to respond.

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Responsibility means answering to and for science

Being able to answer to and for science is one of the most challenging aspects of modern research. Indeed,it is short-sighted to limit science to its application without examining its implications. That’s because there are many facets in the knowledge stemming from various disciplines related to any given topic of study. In this opinion piece, Léo Coutellec, researcher in philosophy of sciences, at the Paris-Sud University, France, suggests scrutinising the many implications of research, even before any applications are investigated.

Sheila Jasanoff: framing research with citizens’ perspectives

In this interview, Sheila Jasanoff, expert of the ‘science of looking at science’ from Harvard Kennedy School, warns that regulatory bodies alone cannot take decisions on thorny contemporary scientific issues, such as how to regulate the CRISPR gene editing technology, without involving society at large. She explains how the first order of framing research with society’s input is crucial for the future of science before even framing the problems to solve in scientific terms. This approach also implies putting oneself in the shoes of the people objecting to the results of scientific research.

Death in academia and the mis-measurement of science

Working in academia is not what it used to be. At least, when it comes to evaluation of work performance. Heightened and underhand pressure on academic performance, has led to the tragic death, last year, of an eminent professor from Imperial College, London, UK. Other academics across Europe have suffered the same fate, albeit these have only been documented anecdotally and did not receive the broader coverage English speaking publications affords. This raises questions concerning the pressures academics come under from academic institutions. These are run like businesses and are looking for unrealistic benchmarks, when it comes to research evaluation.

Scientists’ dreams: a society supporting science and respecting its autonomy

Science is closely linked with society. And yet, despite its close interdependency with society, science demands autonomy – the right to organise its discovery processes according to its own rules and some freedom to select research topics in accordance with its own agenda. Since society now widely recognises the economic and political importance of science, it has come under scrutiny. Its demands for autonomy are now contested.

Open access: who should pay?

It’s been great watching the open access (OA) debate slowly but completely transform over the last two years. Back when I started writing about OA, the big question was still whether or not the world should go that route at all. At times it has felt like a long, hard road from there to here, but we now live in a world where the US and UK governments have both officially declared their support for universal OA, and Europe’s Horizon 2020 research program will mandate OA, while the European Research Council strongly supports OA. The “whether to do OA” debate is over.

The psychology of Horizon 2020 budget cuts

Resisting a reduced spend on science in Europe may require decision makers to understand the mechanisms that makes them discount future benefits in return for short-term certainty on cost savings. Is it better to invest money now or save it for a rainy day? A dilemma faced by millions of people in the tough economic climate: invest now for an uncertain return in the long-term future, versus saving it for short-term needs.