Monday, March 24, 2014

Anti-science in higher ed

Within some religious organizations an anti-science sentiment has been dominating for many years; scientist and the public at large have in general been aware of this and to a certain extend ignoring it as something unimportant and in many ways insignificant due to the small impact that this marginal groups have in our society. But as time has passed more and more people (many completely unaware) are siding with this anti-science movement. It seems that this assertion is unfounded as one sees continuous references by important people in government and in business that supporting science or as it is now called STEM (for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is a matter of "National Security" but in fact there is more (much more) talk than walk.
We at Warner Pacific College are trying to support students to be able to engage in a constantly changing world, as declared in our mission statement. This means that we have to be scientific both in the way we teach as in the subjects we teach. But, what do one means when saying "scientific"? This is indeed a tricky question. Can one say that history can be taught scientifically? One may argue that: No, history can't be taught scientifically. Scientifically means that one follow the scientific method which among other characteristics has the ability to predict phenomena based on the observation of facts and the establishment of hypothesis. It would be a stretch to say that you could do that in historical events. But I am open to be taught and corrected!
As financial resources become more and more scarce the push to minimize the investment in science is taking hold in higher education. With the excuse that STEM is financed by outside sources the push to minimize internal support is gaining momentum in many colleges and universities. This is more evident in smaller institutions that do not have a trajectory and prestige within the scientific endeavor, and thus are more in danger of succumbing to this kind of pressures.
Is there any hope that this trend will change?

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