Title

Doing science in the current political landscape: An interdisciplinary discussion on using curiosity to bridge partisan divides

1

Location

Great Room 1A & 1B

Start Time

21-10-2017 11:30 AM

End Time

21-10-2017 12:30 PM

Session Type

Forum

Abstract

Aims/intent: Should scientists be involved in politics? In response to growing evidence that the United States may be experiencing peak political polarization (Khazan, 2017) the organizers of the 2017 March for Science wrote “in the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery…can we afford not to speak out in its defense?” This forum’s aim is a lively, non-partisan, evidence-based discussion of the relationships between science and politics. This will include an overview of a) historic relationships between politics and science in the US, b) current political challenges to doing scientific work, and c) the roles of curiosity and narrative in helping us to bridge partisan divides. This discussion aims to facilitate critical discourse relative to the intersection of science and the political, and to build interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration. The facilitators (an occupational scientist and an urban planner) will describe how we navigate “the political” in our own work, with examples of how our different disciplinary backgrounds have strengthened our collaboration.

Rationale: Occupational science is impacted in concrete ways (such as funding) by current political landscapes. To respond, we must take stock of where we are and how we got here; this is the purpose of reviewing the history of science in United States (and international) politics. We must also consult the evidence base to foster conversations about science across political divides. Recent research indicates that curiosity about science can help to overcome partisanship and confirmation bias (Kahan et al, 2017), opening doors for meaningful discussion. Curiosity makes people more willing to look at surprising information, even when it conflicts with their previous beliefs (Jasny, 2017; Kahan et al). This forum will thoughtfully explore how engaging people’s curiosity can help scholars share about our research and meaningfully engage in political discourse.

Potential outcomes for participants: Hopeful, practical ideas for engaging curiosity to foster conversations about science; increased understanding of the historic relationship between science and the political

Discussion questions:

  1. What should the relationship be between science and politics?
  2. How does the political climate surrounding science affect our work as occupational scientists?
  3. What is our responsibility as a discipline in taking political action or promoting evidence based approaches to policy?
  4. How can we promote curiosity about science in order to facilitate meaningful conversations and new learning?

Key words: Science, creativity, politics

References

Jasny, B.R. (2017). Scientific curiosity versus polarization. Science, 355(6326), 707.

Kahan, D.M., Landrum, A., Carpenter, K., Helft, L., & Jamieson, K.H. (2017). Science curiosity and political information processing. Advances in Political Psychology, 38, Suppl. 1. doi: 10.1111/pops.12396

Khazan, O. (2017). How to overcome political irrationality about facts. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/01/how-curiosity-bursts-our-political-bubbles/514451/

The March for Science. Retrieved 4/21/17 from https://www.marchforscience.com/

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Oct 21st, 11:30 AM Oct 21st, 12:30 PM

Doing science in the current political landscape: An interdisciplinary discussion on using curiosity to bridge partisan divides

Great Room 1A & 1B

Aims/intent: Should scientists be involved in politics? In response to growing evidence that the United States may be experiencing peak political polarization (Khazan, 2017) the organizers of the 2017 March for Science wrote “in the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery…can we afford not to speak out in its defense?” This forum’s aim is a lively, non-partisan, evidence-based discussion of the relationships between science and politics. This will include an overview of a) historic relationships between politics and science in the US, b) current political challenges to doing scientific work, and c) the roles of curiosity and narrative in helping us to bridge partisan divides. This discussion aims to facilitate critical discourse relative to the intersection of science and the political, and to build interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration. The facilitators (an occupational scientist and an urban planner) will describe how we navigate “the political” in our own work, with examples of how our different disciplinary backgrounds have strengthened our collaboration.

Rationale: Occupational science is impacted in concrete ways (such as funding) by current political landscapes. To respond, we must take stock of where we are and how we got here; this is the purpose of reviewing the history of science in United States (and international) politics. We must also consult the evidence base to foster conversations about science across political divides. Recent research indicates that curiosity about science can help to overcome partisanship and confirmation bias (Kahan et al, 2017), opening doors for meaningful discussion. Curiosity makes people more willing to look at surprising information, even when it conflicts with their previous beliefs (Jasny, 2017; Kahan et al). This forum will thoughtfully explore how engaging people’s curiosity can help scholars share about our research and meaningfully engage in political discourse.

Potential outcomes for participants: Hopeful, practical ideas for engaging curiosity to foster conversations about science; increased understanding of the historic relationship between science and the political

Discussion questions:

  1. What should the relationship be between science and politics?
  2. How does the political climate surrounding science affect our work as occupational scientists?
  3. What is our responsibility as a discipline in taking political action or promoting evidence based approaches to policy?
  4. How can we promote curiosity about science in order to facilitate meaningful conversations and new learning?

Key words: Science, creativity, politics