FORA Science

Season 2007 Episode 1028

Barriers to Science in the 21st Century

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Barriers to Science in the 21st Century
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Battle of Ideas: What are the barriers to science in the 21st century? at the 2007 Battle of Ideas conference hosted by the Institute of Ideas. Panelists include Dr. Evan Harris, Dr. Ruth Mckernan, Dr. Bill Durodie and Monica Grady. Tony Gilland moderates.In recent years, the UK government has trumpeted the importance of science. Tony Blair described himself as 'born-again' on the subject and Gordon Brown, while still Chancellor, opened up the coffers. But the money available to scientific research seems to come at a price. Scientists are increasingly expected to fulfill demands that are less about the pursuit of knowledge than the instrumental benefits - and potential ethical perils - of their research. Today's scientists are expected to keep one eye on the 'knowledge transfer' potential of their work and another on possible risks. Questions about the likely benefits for the economy, healthcare or the environment are high on funding bodies' minds, as are questions about the likelihood of 'success'.Are these reasonable demands to make of scientists? Should the public funding of basic science be tied to potential beneficial outcomes for society, or are we closing down possibilities by asking science to deliver prematurely? What barriers does science face in the 21st century and what can we do to challenge them? Is a more open ended approach to the pursuit of knowledge possible, and if so is it desirable? - IoImoreless
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