Ok, so I visited an interesting issue in a recent blog and while I touched on many possible concepts, I feel that I didn’t do it justice and I would like to develop the idea a little further.
First I must clarify something. I mentioned that in my opinion, while the Australian Academy of Science was poised in the right position to hold a highly positive influence on the nation’s sciences, it is quite narrow minded in its scope – focusing only on the physical and biological sciences. I have since been informed that they are a part of the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACoLA) who:
“provide a forum that brings together great minds, broad perspectives and knowledge,
to help solve complex societal issues for the benefit of Australia’s social,
cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing” (ACoLA).
The Australian Academy of Science is joined by the following:
- Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering (ATSE)
- Australian Academy of Social Sciences (ASSA)
- Australian Academy of the Humanities (humanities)
Together, theyconstitute the most powerful concentration of expertise in all domains of knowledge. On review of the ACoLA and its affiliates I can see that they are poised in a unique position: with the ability to influence cutting edge thinking on key issues for the benefit of Australia’s social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being (ACoLA).
In a press release earlier this year it was stated that the four Academies would “work together to provide the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) with research-based evidence that will support policy development in areas of strategic importance to Australia’s future”. In my opinion this speaks to the power of science within the government, possibly bridging the gap between the lack of scientists in parliament (see media release). There is certainly an opportunity for us to increase our standing in the international arena, promoting our abilities and highlighting our commitment to providing a better future for science. So again, while they do not control all of science in Australia, they are certainly playing a role in strengthening Australia’s science and this is very important.
Finally, I ask myself, where do we ‘the scientists’ fit into this? Don’t we control the science we undertake? Don’t we have the power to communicate the knowledge and understanding that we seek?
Someone mentioned to me recently the concept of “intellectual property” – the application of our minds to create something new or original. This is a complex topic and I don’t have the word limit, or the inclination to delve into it here, but I certainly think it deserves a mention and perhaps is something you may wish to explore yourself. But ultimately, with the developments of the modern world; the methods of communication available to us; and ownership and pride that we do maintain… isn’t it our responsibility to share it with the world? To offer them the chance to feel the pride in Australia’s science that we feel?
So while I haven’t necessarily answered the original question, I think most would agree that there probably is no definitive answer except that the power is in the information that we, as scientists, allow others to experience and understand. Without us there is no science, and it is our responsibility to share it…
And only then can we instil a sense of pride in the community of Australia that science is important knowledge for all… not just the scientist
For some extra reading: an article in the conversation from the chief scientists himself on whether or not Australia cares about science (here)