Chemistry Is in the News: Collaboration, Communication, Science Community and Society

Bronowski pointed out the private (independence, originality) and public (truthfulness, dissent) components of science and the need for both in the scientific society. Ziman writes that Science is Public Knowledge and that science stands in the region where the intellectual, the psychological and the sociological coordinate axes intersect. Habermas talks about the systems sphere (science, technology, corporate capitalism, bureaucracy) and the cultural sphere (private and public life, morality, culture) and the need to harmonize progress in science and technology with the cultural sphere. Successful human evolution as a collective learning device requires effort to discuss and bring about consensus about the systems sphere in the cultural sphere to guarantee democracy.

University science education largely focuses on disciplinary skill training. Making the connections to the students (psychology) and to needs of the public (sociology) either is neglected or not attempted at all. Yet, it is the complexity that comes from these connections that brings the subject to life, makes students better learners, and provides them with the abilities to become life-long learners and free citizens in a democratic society.

The Chemistry Is in the News project enables students to see the connections, to understand science and its role in society, and to use this knowledge in the evaluation and in making judgements about choices presented in everyday life.

©2004 Dr. Rainer Glaser's group