‘Science is for everyone’ message of Science Week in France

11 October 2001 This year’s Science Week in France (15-21 October) will be bringing the message to its citizens that ‘Science is everywhere and for everyone’.

Roger-Gérard Schwartzenberg, Minister of Research, chose this theme out of a desire to see ‘science to leave its sanctuary and take to the streets’.

‘Science should be close to people and convivial’ he says, ‘something that people are able to share’.

The need for scientists to participate more fully in a dialogue with the general public was underscored by the World Conference on Science, which placed science squarely ‘in society and for society’.

Paragraph 41 of the Declaration described the social responsibility of scientists as being to ‘maintain high standards of scientific integrity and quality control, share their knowledge, communicate with the public and educate the younger generation.’

Next week’s celebrations intend to do just that. And it is hoped that school children – who are the primary targets of the Science Week in France – will come away from the different events having discovered a thirst for knowledge and a vocation in science. France is not alone in experiencing a disaffection for science among its teenage population and is taking energetic steps to reverse the trend (see WCS Newsletter, 19 October 2000).

Science Week will also aim to develop a ‘civic science’ by encouraging dialogue between citizens and scientists on such crucial isses as genetic and cellular research, Mad Cow disease, genetically modified organisms, the greenhouse effect and climate change.

Paragraph 75 of the Science Agenda called upon governments and non-governmental organizations to organize debates, including public debates, on the ethical implications of scientific work.’ It also recommended that these activities ‘be institutionally fostered and recognized as part of scientists’ work and responsibility.’

For further information, go to: www.recherche.gouv.fr