Society needs science, and scientists need an informed, thoughtful, and open-minded citizenry. Thus, the obvious dependence of American society on science is strikingly inconsistent with the low level of scientific literacy among U. S. citizens. By establishing 2009 as the "Year of Science," professional scientific organizations and grassroots, citizens-for-science groups hope to bring a renewed and invigorated focus on the importance of science now and in the future. As knowledge experts and educators, practicing scientists are key players in advancing the scientific literacy agenda.
As part of its 2008 annual meeting, the Botanical Society of America (BSA) organized a symposium to help inform attendees about the issues involved in scientific literacy as well as the progress achieved toward the goal of obtaining a public that is better informed and more accepting of scientific achievements and science in general. There were five presentations during the symposium: Marshall Sundberg discussed the PlantingScience initiative developed by the BSA (www.PlantingScience.org), Gordon Uno showed how developing botanical literacy among our students can contribute to scientific literacy, Judith Scotchmoor illustrated how she and her colleagues have developed educational outreach and resources for helping teachers teach the process of science to their students, and Matthew Nisbet and Dietram Scheufele each discussed different aspects of science communication and the public.
Papers based on these presentations will be published in the October issue of the American Journal of Botany and will remain free for viewing. All of the papersincluding the introduction by Christopher Haufler and Marshall Sundberg (http://www.amjbot.org/cgi/reprint/ajb.0900241v1)show how both passive and active forces have contributed to current concerns about scientific literacy.
In his contribution, Gordon Uno
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American Journal of Botany