Ed.M. in Science and the Public ONLINE


Why Science and the Public?

The 21st century will pose a number of extremely serious challenges to both the United States and the world at large. These challenges include those around energy, climate change, population growth, gene-based technologies (cloning, stem cells, GM foods, reproductive technologies, and artificial life creation), surveillance and privacy, etc. Solutions to these challenges demands that critical and urgent public policy decisions be made and implemented: these will require substantial public dialog and input. For this process to be effective we need a scientifically literate populace. It was Carl Sagan who famously observed that: "It is suicidal to create a society dependent on science and technology in which hardly anybody knows anything about science and technology." Achievement of scientific literacy and an understanding of the methods and philosophy of science cannot be achieved by formal science education alone: involvement of all professionals in promoting science understanding through both formal and informal approaches is necessary.

"Science and the Public", offered solely as a part-time online program leading to the Ed.M. degree, is designed to:

  1. prepare professionals to better engage in public activities and debates related to science,
  2. promote science literacy and understanding in the public at large, and
  3. promote scholarship in science and humanism, science and public policy, and science in the political, religious and secular environments.

All professionals with an interest in promoting the public understanding of science and a desire to become leaders in science and the public interface may apply. An adequate science background is necessary.

The required courses have been specifically designed and selected to provide the student with the necessary background in:

  • the history and philosophy of science, including the scientific method,
  • critical thinking,
  • quantitative reasoning and statistical analysis,
  • the ethics of scientific research,
  • research methodologies,
  • current science education and curricular approaches (e.g.. scientific literacy, science and religion, and science policy),
  • the analysis of current human challenges and scientific and technological approaches, and
  • scientific writing through the analysis and practice of current media examples.

earth-sphere-on-the-grass.jpgThus, the courses on quantitative reasoning and statistical analysis provide the background for critical analyses on the soundness of scientific conclusions, the course on research methodologies is designed to acquaint you with the approaches to scientific research and the course on ethics to provide a broad familiarity with the issues of scientific integrity and the moral-scientific interface around the increasing importance of the "new biology." Finally, the capstone project is a thesis providing a critical and original analysis of a problem or approach in the broad area of the science and the public program that serves to integrate the skills and knowledge derived from the required courses.

Thus equipped, the graduate will serve as a leader to promote the public understanding of science in such diverse fields as correspondents in broadcast media, as teachers at the K-12 levels, as science writers in journalism, in book and journal editing and publishing, as legislative aides and assistants in local, state and federal legislatures, technology-based companies, intellectual property organizations and offices, and advertising companies, etc.

This Ed.M. degree in Science and the Public has been approved by SUNY Central and the State Education Department and is being offered by the Graduate School of Education in conjunction with the Center for Inquiry. Click here for program information and requirements.

For additional information on the Science and the Public program, please contact Tracey McNerney at 716-645-3420 (voice) or via email at tmmcnern@buffalo.edu.