Society diversity

Essence of science in society

Our contemporary world faces challenges such as threats of health emergencies, unpredictable changes in weather patterns and declining biodiversity that require rapid, effective and integrated response.

Generating and applying useful knowledge about them is necessary for success in this offering.

This task falls largely within the realm of the physical, biological and medical sciences. Ideally, practitioners in these fields naturally generate data through functional research to form the basis for public policy formulation and evaluation.

This interface highlights the value and credibility of the need to forge strong interdisciplinary collaboration.

Achievements

It should be noted that Ghana has a policy on science, technology and innovation [STI] (MEST, 2010).

Much has been done in the development and application of science since independence.

Examples of these are manifested in the establishment of various science departments in schools, the institution of science resource centers, the holding of national popular science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for school children and students.

These are meant to expose children to science early and inspire them to stay and grow in the discipline.

Moreover, we have experienced the phenomenal evolution of fully-fledged science colleges in our universities.

This is in addition to the specialized institutions under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research [established by Research Act 21 (1958), NLC Decree 293 (1968) and CSIR Act 521 (1996)].

We have the Ghana Science Association (GSA), Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS), Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), among others.

These are commendable. However, the fact is that we haven’t achieved as much as we could have achieved in this endeavor.

It is therefore imperative for us to engage in thorough impact assessment and innovate in order to be more committed to finding ways to further improve

Research Triangle

I admire the regular meetings between groups of people and institutions with compatible operational mandates.

The most recent of these was the 5th Academia-Industry-Government Interphase hosted by UG Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST), Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and Government last month (April 21-22). This “triangular” relationship is vital and must be encouraged.

It is symbiotic because the main focus of academia is teaching, research and dissemination of results, graduates from these institutions often find themselves employed in industry (private and/or public sector) to apply their acquired knowledge and expertise to help support businesses and revive the national economy.

The usual central role of government has been to provide an atmosphere conducive to these activities.

In some cases, it provides or facilitates obtaining funds for research in accordance with public needs.

Gains, Obstacles

While admitting that certain situations have clearly improved (for example, the availability of computers and extended means of communication, health care, the supply of drinking water and electricity, transport, architecture, among others , over the past decade), we still face basic problems that can be managed with the application of science and technology.

For example, we still face undernutrition even though there is great potential for agricultural productivity and diversity; we have serious problems with environmental sanitation and associated preventable infectious diseases; we still need to make the most of solar energy to diversify our energy sources for both domestic and industrial applications, etc.

Solving these basic problems requires an adequate appreciation of our critical circumstances, available resources (both human and material) and how they can be appropriately developed and optimally applied to achieve the desired results.

These, I believe, constitute the essence of science and technology in our society.
Science is knowledge-driven and dependent on ideas. These insights are usually formed through observation and/or theoretical training in a particular specialty.

The evocation of science should require deep reflection on the art of teaching it. Indeed, children (and older students) will be attracted to it if they are interested in it in the first place. To do this, relevant information and instructions must be provided in attractive, affordable and comprehensive packages. [NB: I am fondly reminded of the existence of the UCC-based Ghana Association of Science Teachers (GAST)].

Virtues, scientist

Dear reader, let us remember the unspoken moral codes in the teaching and practice of science – carefulness, humility, spirit of innovation, honesty, determination, perseverance, transparency, curiosity, consistency, courage, perseverance, thoroughness, skepticism, sincerity, reliability, reasonable simplicity, hard work, teamwork, objectivity and candor.

The author is a Harvard-trained freelance writer on science and public health issues. E-mail: This email address is protected from spam. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.