November 20, 2015
A Survey of Public Views and Attitudes Towards Science and Technology Issues in Singapore is a 5,000-word report published by Asian Scientist and released on November 20, 2015.
The survey is an initiative of Nanyang Technological University and was led by Associate Professor Shirley Ho of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communications and Information, and Nanyang Assistant Professor Juliana Chan, of the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.
The first study of its kind in Singapore, the research team surveyed 967 Singaporean citizens and permanent residents on their knowledge, attitudes and engagement with the scientific and technological endeavors that are changing their lives and shaping their nation.
Why conduct the survey?
Science and technology are expanding their presence in the public consciousness and shouldering ever-growing hopes in Singapore’s economic, environmental and social progress. Science is present whenever Singaporeans need to decide on medical treatments, negotiate community values, and even select food for their families. Discovering what Singaporeans think about these issues is increasingly important. Singapore’s scientific journey also requires the public’s trust and support for what can be very expensive and uncertain efforts.
Singaporeans are nearly unanimous about science’s importance to economic advancement, and overwhelmingly support government funding of research and development, as well as science scholarships. A majority, however, believe that science makes their way of life change too fast, and that we depend too much on science and not enough on faith. The respondents also perceive Singapore’s science community to be male-dominated and would support policies to increase women’s participation in science.
The survey finds that even with a good base, Singaporeans’ scientific literacy is uneven with much room for improvement. Singaporeans are well versed in some areas but surprisingly uninformed about the science that affects their daily lives, such as the purpose of antibiotics and the safety of genetically-modified foods. These gaps affect personal well-being as well national public health.
To help the public not only cope with, but also participate in, scientific decisions affecting their lives, the report finds there to be a clear need to enlarge and improve public discussion about science and technology in Singapore. The outlook is positive though, as Singaporeans are thirsty for scientific and technological knowledge, with the Internet as their preferred source of scientific information.
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