Role of Scientists in Public Education: Prof M S Swaminathan
Author : Prof M S Swaminathan
Chennai, January 25, 2016: 25th January issue of Nature contains the following advice to scientists.
“Debates over climate change and genome editing present the need for researchers to venture beyond their comfort zones to engage with citizens – and they should receive credit for doing so”
Science communication is becoming very important in democratic societies where important decisions particularly in the resource allocation area are taken by duly elected bodies. The absence of effective science communications gets reflected with opposition to important projects like the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant as well as many river linking projects. The late Dr C V Raman was a very effective communicator and could explain even to young children very clearly why this sky is blue. While a separate cadre of science communicators would be useful, it will be even more useful if those working in the forward edge of science themselves explain to the public, the significance of their findings. This is particularly true as Nature has pointed out in areas like climate change and gene editing. Already it is clear that the new administration in the US has some apprehension relating to facts concerning climate change. Scientific organisations should also provide facilities to those young scientists who are able to communicate in local languages the significance of new developments in Science. Nature’s advice is therefore timely.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.