For me growing up in London meant school holidays included a day out to museums and galleries. Hands on activities and enthusiastic explainers made the Science Museum a favourite. Taking part in fun (activity-led) science has made a lasting impression on me – encouraging me to study separate sciences at school, a bioscience degree and now follow a career in science communication. Having publicly-funded scientists at events like The Big Bang Fair and The Times Cheltenham Science festival is important in showing people the effects of science in our everyday lives.
Public funding for science is essential for economic growth, with far-reaching effects throughout society. It is therefore crucial that the subject of publicly-funded science is widely discussed and the full implications understood. Science is Vital provides a voice for this discussion but it needs to be louder. UK scientists and engineers can help Science is Vital’s case to the Government by taking part in a survey to show the effects of the current cash freeze. Hopefully high-profile endorsement will generate increased backing for this cause.
Approximately 0.6% of our GDP is spent on funding science compared to 0.9% the US and other European countries. We don’t want British science to struggle and fall behind other scientist in other countries. Science is Vital wants the Government to unfreeze the science budget and increase its R&D spending in 2015-16.
Founded in 2010, Science is Vital is a grassroots campaign of UK scientists and supporters of science who believe that a strong science base is vital to the UK’s economy and reputation. Their first petition was supported by prominent scientists, NGOs and learned societies including the Society of Biology. Letters to MPs, parliamentary lobbying and a rally all led to freezing the science budget for 4 years.
But if you take into account inflation then this won’t really help UK science in the long term.
Science is Vital is leading the campaign to increase public spending to 0.8% – the average spend across the world’s eight wealthiest countries.
In March a letter published in the Daily Telegraph urged the Government to commit to long-term funding of science and engineering. This campaign is backed by six Nobel laureates and leading UK scientists including Sir Paul Nurse, Professor Stephen Hawking and Professor Sir Martin Evans.
You can discuss the campaign with Science is Vital founder and chair Dr Jennifer Rohn at the Science Communication Training Day 2013. Scientists attending the event might also be interesting in entering the Society of Biology Science Communication Awards for best new and established researcher.