Dr. John C. Besley contributes to National Science Foundation Report
Science and Health Communication Research Group member Dr. John C. Besley recently contributed to a National Science Foundation (NSF) working group assessment of how science literacy is measured. Results of that assessment have been published in a key bi-annual report on the state of science in America, the National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators.
The NSF collects data on public knowledge of science and reports
it in the Science & Engineering Indicators. For
the 2010 edition, a disagreement arose regarding the value of
some of the data. One response to this problem was a call from
the NSF and the National Science Board to convene a workshop
to reevaluate the conceptual framework for measuring and reporting
public knowledge of science.
Besley, whose research expertise explores the relationships between media use, citizen engagement and risk perceptions, was one of two University of South Carolina researchers invited to participate in the NSF-sponsored event. Chris Toumey, an anthropologist in the University of South Carolina Nanocenter organized and chaired the working group.
“It was a great to be able to contribute to how the United States assesses what the public knows about science and the impact of that knowledge,” said Besley. “The fact that South Carolina was able to play a prominent role in the process speaks to the team of social scientists we have at the university focused on understanding public views about science.”
The workshop was held at NSF headquarters in Arlington, Virginia in October 2010. The workshop report, Science in the Service of Citizens and Consumers, is now available. Toumey and Besley also took part in a second workshop in November that was aimed at building on the results of this report.