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Description of Science in Society

The Science in Society track introduces students to the role of science in society. There are many examples that show how scientists are deeply involved in culture and politics: Think about the public role of experts in responding to the covid-19 pandemic.  Other examples relate to the communication of chemical risks, controversies about animal experimentation, or the issue of energy at the interface of physics, economy and policy. You may also think of very specific cases, such as the use of machine learning in the life sciences. Moreover, the public role of scientific research is constantly depicted in film, literature, or social media. Clearly, science operates in a societal context; it is not a standalone activity.

The most important challenges of our time combine social and scientific aspects. Climate change, public health hazards, or digital technologies are the most prominent examples. These and many other societal changes usually entail a lot of scientific knowledge and uncertainties. This becomes clear, for example, in biomedical professions, where researchers, practitioners, patients, and many other groups engage with scientific knowledge. The other way around, scientific and technological developments always imply social assumptions and social consequences. Digital technologies and artificial intelligence, for example, deeply affect the way we think about ourselves, or build personal relationships.

There is an increasing need for scientists to understand and deal with divergent perspectives in both science and society. More and more, scientists work in interdisciplinary settings and respond to other groups in society. This means that they continuously need to develop and re-consider scientific knowledge, for instance in climate modeling or genetic modification. At the same time, the kind of roles that scientists play has become more diverse. Many organizations in academia, policy making, economy or civil society closely involve scientists in policy advice or in innovation processes. In addition, scientists increasingly collaborate with non-academics in projects of “citizen science” and transdisciplinary collaboration. A growing number of researchers is involved in the organization of public debates, or in the design and conduct of participatory projects.

The Master Track Science in Society equips you with the tools and skills to become a professional intermediary between science and society. At the same time, the program provides you with a broader societal perspective that will be useful in a scientific career. Students that have finished the Science in Society track develop careers in various fields: in intermediary organizations between science and society (policy, advisory bodies, interest groups and governments), in science communication or interdisciplinary research and in science journalism.

Examples of graduation projects can be found here.

For more information please contact the program coordinator Noëlle Aarts (SiS-coordinator@ru.nl).

You can also book a speaking hour every Thursday at 12.30pm. Please register two days in advance: https://radbouduniversity.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwsd-CorT4jH9EUmZp0bCkrO5UsHDd7ypjj