opinion

COLUMN: Why IU needs science writers



IU, like many other institutions, houses an incredibly diverse and expansive variety of fields to study and explore.

From the future lawyers in my Epistemology class to the disheveled Einsteins in my Electricity and Magnetism course, I come across a wide variety of people in my classes.

But, when we don’t take the time to communicate with those who are different, we become overprotective of ourselves, hiding in our 
comfort zones.

We succumb to groupthink, insecurity and ignorance in our own habits.

In order to foster progress of the University as a whole, we need to talk to one another about what we do.

That’s why we need 
science communication.

We’ve seen the distinct academic cultures.

Business students get bored with the science students. Humanities students think the social science 
students are icky.

And don’t even get me started on the time-honored rivalry between pre-medical and pre-law students.

Aside from strict divisions between people, there are still areas between students that require greater understanding for us to function better as a university.

And, especially among non-science students, we need more interest in understanding and appreciating science.

But what are things people usually say to science 
majors?

“Oh, you’re one of THOSE people...”

“Wow, you must be so smart!”

“Cool...” Then, awkward silence.

Our conversations and discourse with science students are often superficial.

Our praise for them can be harmful if we don’t appropriately understand science.

Sometimes our attitudes tend to distance science students as “those people” — strangers, different from other human beings.

Long gone are the days of scientists like Newton locked up in labs, secluded from 
society.

We need to see science students as similar to others, just as they should be because they are a human, 
integral part of society.

Viewing scientific talent as “natural” or “inherent,” can have this harmful distancing effect, as well.

It draws newcomers away from studying the sciences and discourages academic diversity.

Scientific communication with an appropriate exploration of the meaning and value of science will open up the discourse between scientists and non-scientists to greater, more constructive levels.

I believe people should appreciate science for the same reasons that scientists do.

This means when any of us write about the work of Galileo, Darwin, Aristotle or any other scientist, we remain mindful of whatever meaning and message we intend to carry in the way we communicate.

Though science writers should not explain science at the level of an undergraduate course, they must still preserve the beauty and appreciation for science that the University needs.

Regardless, IU needs scientific writers for the betterment of scientists and 
non-scientists alike.

Diversity of thought and discourse will lay the foundation for understanding and knowledge for everyone.

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