Campus News

UW-Madison professors research how much public knows about science

Two UW-Madison students participate in a science experiment in their chemistry class.

Image By: Courtesy of UW-Madison

Two UW-Madison professors are helping analyze data on American science and health literacy with the National Academy of Sciences panel for a report to be released in 2017.

Dominique Brossard, a life sciences communication professor, and Noah Feinstein, a School of Education professor, serve as two of 12 members on the committee. The group observes what the average individual knows and does not know about science, given that members of the general scientific community have expressed concern over Americans' knowledge of science compared to those in other countries.

The panel examines measurements of scientific knowledge, and the methods used to find it, along with how that knowledge has changed as time has gone on. This will lead the group to determine whether the lack of science literacy in the U.S. is due to decreased public support for scientific research.

“The goal is to try and get the big picture,” Brossard said in a university press release. “We’re not looking at any single area of science and it is a consensus report, meaning we all have to agree, assuring multiple perspectives will be reflected in the final product.”

According to Brossard, scientific literacy can be as simple as knowing enough to make good everyday decisions, like taking the right medicines at the right times. 

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