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"Philosophy of Education"

2014 year, number 6

«THIRD MISSION OF THE UNIVERSITY AND THE PROJECT OF PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF SCIENCE: THE BODMER REPORT

N. V. Golovko1,2, E. A. Ruzankina3, O. V. Zinevich3
1Novosibirsk State University, str. Pirogova, 2, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
2Institute of Philosophy and Law of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nikolaeva str., 8, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
3Novosibirsk State Technical University, Pr. Karla Marksa, 20, Novosibirsk, Russia
Keywords: universitys third mission, entrepreneurial university, critical thinking, natural sciences in school, public understanding of science, W. Bodmer

Abstract

The paper aims to illustrate one of the key elements of the public understanding of science project — the Bodmer Report, in the light of the problem of many interpretations of the university’s third mission. In modern history the Bodmer Report is, essentially, one of the first appeals of scientists to the government and the public that substantially justify the necessity of formation in citizens of the scientifically-oriented foundations of worldview. The Report was prepared in 1985 by an initiative group under the guidance of the well-known British researcher W. Bodmer. Besides an analytical part it also contains a series of practical recommendations to the government, mass-media, scientific, educational and business societies, underlining the importance of understanding science via the observation that during life people, by definition, are involved into decision-making that affects every sides and aspects of life, and that better understanding of science causes better decision-making. In this sense the ideology of the Report is close to J. Habermass understanding of scientism and the necessity of societys epistemic modernization. But in contrast to Habermass ideas, the Report is oriented in a far greater extent to the practice of realization of the ideas mentioned above. In particular, a lot of attention is paid to the structure of educational program at secondary school, the necessity to expand the part of such programs that is dedicated to natural sciences is confirmed not only by suggesting to increase the amount of class-hours devoted to main subjects like physics, biology and chemistry, but also by the suggestion to add to this subjects another important scientific disciplines like the Earth sciences. Aside from natural sciences, the importance of another subjects is also underlined, for example, economics, social management, ecology etc. Besides, it is noted that it is necessary to foster an understanding of statistics among the pupils, including understanding of the ideas of risk, uncertainty and contingency of natural and social processes that may be shown at the course of mathematics as well. It is worth to note that at the time the Report had caused a wide public resonance and became an ideological platform to a number of national and international scientific, governmental and public committees, societies and organizations that support the idea of development of public understanding of science, for example, COPUS in USA, SAOE in Great Britain, SIS in European Union, CPAS in Australia, SEPUST in Japan etc. In this paper the Report is considered as a significant part of understanding of the universitys third mission engagement of the university into solving the problems that are important for the society. Our thesis is that it is insufficient to understand the third mission only as a problem of technology transfer. The importance and the depth of the problems of modern society, such as the problem of capitalization of knowledge or the problem of formation of the scientifically-oriented worldview they are forcing university to transform and to find a new forms of answering to the societys demands. The project of public understanding of science, the establishment of the corresponding Chairs in the universities, various public events they are another form of the third mission realization which is connected with the main socially significant function of the university to teach to think independently and to show the importance of rational critical reasoning.