SMU Scientific Literacy Series Finale:

SMU's Science Literacy Series looks at the challenges of writing about science and at the way science is taught.

Science Literacy Series

DALLAS (SMU) – The Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute’s (DCII) Scientific Literacy Series, which began last fall with the goal of exploring the causes behind a growing disconnect between Americans and scientists, will conclude with an April 7 lecture on the challenges of writing about science and an April 8 panel exploring the way it’s taught in educational settings.

“The scientific literacy of the U.S. population is of utmost importance,” says Caroline Brettell, SMU Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Ruth Collins Altshuler Director of the DCII. “People need to know how to evaluate evidence that’s brought to bear on important issues ranging from climate change to the impact and safety of particular drugs. It is important also to restore faith in science so that people understand the rigorous process by which scientists arrive at their conclusions.”

Science writer Stephen Ornes will present a lecture, “Real and Imaginary Hazards in Writing About Science,” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, in room 133 of the Fondren Science Building.

“We live in an age of great discovery, but at the same time there’s a lack of trust in science and a skepticism in the process itself,” Ornes says. “What I’d like to talk about is how science communicators like teachers and writers can talk about and guide the conversation about science.”

A panel discussion, “Teaching Science,” will be at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 8, in rooms 138 and 144 of Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall. Sitting on the panel will be Perot Museum of Nature and Science Vice President of Learning and Engagement Jamie Creola, Plano ISD Science Department head Ramy Mahmoud, and former Teach for America STEM content specialist and current SMU lecturer Laura West. Rena Pederson, an SMU adjunct professor, former journalist, author and public relations guru, will moderate.

“The panel will focus on learning about the scientific process as a dimension of critical thinking,” Brettell says. “Panelists will discuss best practices and challenges of teaching about science in grade school, college and as a process of lifelong learning. How do we educate for thoughtful adults who will approach science and scientific discoveries with an open mind?”

Both events are free and open to the public.


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