Supporting a Scientifically Literate Society—A Mission for Engaged Disciplines

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Speaker: Bruce A. McPheron, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education, Director of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Experiment Station, The Pennsylvania State University. Convenor: Daney Jackson, Director Cooperative Extension, Pennsylvania State University. (Note: In the conference program the convenor is listed as Craig Weidemann, Vice President for Outreach, The Pennsylvania State University.) Abstract: The National Academy of Sciences describes scientific literacy as “knowledge and understanding of the scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity” (1995). The process of science—theories, experiments, observations, conclusions that lead to new understandings—describes the work done through outreach scholarship. No matter what the disciplines or type of engagement work we do, we are using research-based information, scientific processes, and research tools to help citizens make decisions, participate in civic and cultural affairs, and advance economic productivity. Is it sufficient that we base our work in the sciences or do we also have a responsibility to help create a scientifically literate citizenry? The session will focus on this question and will challenge participants to think about their responsibility to help create an understanding of science, no matter what the discipline or role in outreach scholarship.


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scientific literacy, engagement, outreach scholarship, economic productivity