UBC has a reputation as a research intensive university. Do you think the general public understands the importance of basic research?
Week 1 Results
Week 1 Comments
They do in some respects. But a university is still an ivory tower to a lot of people. This is also its cache however in another sense. The question is how can we strike a balance and get the members of the community to send their children to UBC , to get involved with university activities [e.g. fund raising etc] and so on.
Yes, I believe the public appreciates the importance of basic research, and often defer decisions to scientists who they assume know more than they. My concern is that as science advances, the level of literacy required to effectively engage in meaningful discussions rises and that most of the public do not have this minimum level of understanding. Genetics is a great example of the publics appreciation for the topic (i.e., desire for new medical treatments) but are illiterate when it comes to engaging in meaningful dialogue (i.e., GE and food safety).
I think that the community has a good understanding of the importance of medical scientific research, but that the place of social and policy research and pure sciences are less well understood by the broader public.
I think this is reflected in the fact that the general public pays very little attention to such things as funding cuts for fundamental research, or higher education in general – which is why its easy for governments to make these cuts. Basic research also rarely gets much media attention beyond curiosity value, or the occasional big-ticket item like a new multi-billion dollar particle accelerator. There are plenty of instances in which scientists have been derided for the basic research when it is – to borrow a phrase – inconvenient, witness the climate change debate until a few years ago.
I do think the general public understands the importance- however what I dont think UBC fully understands is the importance of completing extention and information/communication projects to disseminate the research we do, and ensure the integration of our research into the relevant decision making processes. This is a roll for the university that we dont currently fully realize.
I think they do understand the importance. Universities are viewed as these homes for abstract thinkers, whose studies improve the quality of life for all. It may be a worthwhile idea for your committee to conduct an in-person survey of Vancouverites to see their thoughts.
The public wants to hear about results (cure for X or Y…). We need to advertise basic research, but also the value of critical thinking. More and more often, I feel, we are expected to perpetuate accepted patterns of thought. We should resist these pressures and promote the very value of questioning and discussion.
The general public does not what what research is. I am a full professor based at VGH and the business leaders of our hospital do not even know. These are educated people and it is very disheartening.
I think people know that research is important. However, I think that UBC puts too much emphasis on research, at the expense of quality teaching and other developments.
I dont think the public would associate the University with basic research. I think they might associate the University with esoteric research, which may or may not have relevance to them.