The main objective of this course is to provoke questions about and to stimulate reflection on the often complex relationship between science and the public. This is useful for:|
- Science education and communication (SEC) students.
- History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) students.
- Science students and history students.
Science has always been dependent on society. It is supported to the degree that governments, the public, interest groups, or other agencies recognize its value. The public image of science is therefore of vital importance to the continuing existence of science. But where do public images of science come from? Partly at least from the scientists themselves. Scientists use a wide variety of strategies, such as popularization, to influence this image. One may ask how effectively they communicate scientific knowledge and images of science. And to what degree does the image conveyed in popular science correspond to actual scientific practice? The relation between science and the public is one of strong mutual influence. Some historians have suggested that public attitudes shape the self-image of scientists to the point that they are willing to revise the core-values of their disciplines. There are sociologists of science who claim that knowledge is only established once the public are convinced. To make matters even more complicated, it should always be kept in mind that at any time there is not one monolithic science and one undifferentiated audience. Moreover both science and society have changed tremendously in the course of history. This course studies the history of their co-construction.