Collaborative and Inclusive Science for All

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Have you ever seen the show Cosmos? Originally created by the late Carl Sagan, the new one is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It's a fun show -- it's inspiring, enthusiastic, and well-produced.

In one of the episodes, the viewer is reminded that science used to be a very elitist club. Fortunately many people agree it shouldn't be that way, but many pathways to "success" in science remain the same as ever. A PhD student told me recently that they didn't want to enter the rat race of vying for tenure, with the claim of, 'well I'll change the system from the inside!'  like they'd heard many other young scientists claim. There has to be another way, there has to be a way to effectively communicate science and increase scientific understanding.

I agree with the modern message that science should fundamentally shift to be more inclusive and accessible. I relate to Carl Sagan's passion for science - that it should not only be shared with everyone, but that they should also be able to understand it. Even posthumous, his vision for science is infectious. I feel the same way -- I want for everyone to truly know science. 

In addition to being an exclusive club, science also did not used to be interdisciplinary. I see a rise in interdisciplinary practice; I see people working together because they recognize we must see the system as a whole. I heard that as a deep theme in the recent 2021 NCSE Drawdown conference. But I still see strong siloed approaches that sometimes limit science. Therefore we must press on in our science communication efforts to increase inclusivity and interdisciplinarity.

A fellow scientist reminded me recently that not all scientists have the same value system - we might focus on different things. But we aren't required to have the same opinions, for good science bridges the gap between realities by inherently recognizing and accepting the biases we bring to every situation. Good science is always accepting the possibility of being wrong, always searching for the tools necessary to accurately assess the truth of the reality.

My mission, in life and in this science communication platform, is to ensure everyone has access to science by ushering out the previous status quo that science is an exclusive club. I know, like Sagan knew, that big problems and questions cannot be answered within a silo. They must be tackled collaboratively, with expertise from many fields of science, together.

I envision a future where science is collaborative and embraces systems thinking, where more people have greater scientific literacy. A future where we can trust the scientific code of honor which is a self-checking system of truthful, rigorous, and reputable science.

Sagan said, "science is more than a body of knowledge, it's a way of thinking, a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility." I can't think of a better way to say it! That, in essence, is what I hope to share through this blog and podcast. 

Science is a way of life.


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