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Don’t Bring a Test Tube to a Bunsen Burner Fight: Connecting Activist STEM Education with Policy

Michael Barnett
Professor, Science Education and Technology
Lynch School of Education
Boston College

"Science and engineering have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since the second world war. In doing so, scientists and science educators have gained the respect of the public through their competence, but have we gained their trust? In general scientists, as a group, are not seen as warm or approachable, but perceived as argumentative with little interest in understanding the nuance or context. This trustworthiness gap is magnified, when politicians develop a similar attitude toward science and scientists. These attitudes, in turn, impact large scale and important decisions about science and basic research and can directly affect the public well-being, from the growth of our economy, to public health, to the education of our young people.  

In this talk, we will explore where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education is today, the future of STEM education, and how we can engage both the general public and policy makers in rational dialogue around the role and importance of STEM education. Examples of empowering citizens and, most importantly, youth in engaging the public in scientific dialogue will be discussed.”