The German research foundation DFG (DFG) funds a Special Priority Program SPP with the aim to integrate diverse research areas on a specific topic and to initiate further cross-regional cooperation and interdisciplinary networking of the participating researchers. Such a program is typically funded for six years, and this SPP includes 16 projects on the topic “Science and General Public”.
This Special Priority Program will perform empirical research on the interface between science and the general public
Since the advent of modern information technologies, a great variety of science-related information has become available to anybody with access to a personal computer. This has blurred the borders between the knowledge that laypersons may be able to understand and the expert knowledge that is accessible only to specialists. The Internet has made it particularly easy to access information from many domains of science. People trying to solve problems expect or hope to gain potential solutions from science. However, how do they cope with the fact that science is often only able to offer fragile or even conflicting evidence?
This Special Priority Program should perform empirical studies on the conditions and processes involved in the way in which the general public (i.e., laypersons) basically understands how evidence is gathered and established in science, and it should use these findings to formulate theories on laypersons’ understanding of science. It should also work out empirically based principles for designing the communication of science-related information. Part of such a basic understanding is also learning how to productively handle the limits of one’s own understanding as a “layperson”.
The findings of the Special Priority Program will build up a theoretical and empirical basis for examining a question that education theory has previously addressed mostly in normative terms: What is a modern understanding of science like, and how can its development be promoted so that people can participate in the knowledge society throughout their lives?
Spokesperson of the SPP:
Prof. Dr. Rainer Bromme
Institute of Psychology
Tel.: +49 251 8339135 (office); +49 251 8339196 (secretary)
Fax: +49 251 8339105
Second Spokesperson of the SPP:
Prof. Dr. Michaela Maier
Institut für Kommunikationspsychologie, Medienpädagogik und Sprechwissenschaft (IKMS)
Tel.: +49 6341 921713
Dr. Dorothe Kienhues
Institute of Psychology
D 48149 Muenster
Tel: 49 251 8331347 (office), 49 251 8339196 (secretary)
Fax: 49 251 8339105