Theme F Summary

Panel: D.L. Akins, Y. Bar-Yam, J.G. Batterson, A.H. Cohen, M.E. Gorman, M. Heller, J. Klein-Seetharaman, A.T. Pope, M.C. Roco, R. Reddy, W. Tolles, R.S. Williams, D. Zolandz

The fifth and final NBIC theme explores the transformations of science and scientific education that will enable and be enhanced by technological convergence. The panel especially focused on the ways that education can transform science and unifying science (based on the unity of nature and using cause-and-effect explanation) can transform education, for the vast improvement of both. As a number of reports from the National Research Council (NRC 1996-2000) and comparable organizations attest, the future of society depends on continued scientific progress, which in turn depends upon science education. Converging scientific principles and technologies will raise the importance of this issue to a higher level.

Four factors demand significant changes in the science education received by students at all levels:

i) Many poorly understood social factors work against science in the educational system, and ways must be found to counter these anti-science forces using new S&T trends (NSF 2000).

ii) Rapid progress in cognitive, biological, information, and nanoscale sciences *9offers new insights about how people learn that can guide effective reforms in curriculum, evaluation, and organizational structuring.

iii) New education techniques and tools will be made available by converging technologies, and we need to prepare to take advantage of them.

iv) Few mid-career professional scientists have the practical opportunity to redirect their careers to any significant extent, so unification of the sciences must largely begin in school.

Currently, scientific and engineering education is highly fragmentary, each part constrained by the boundaries of one particular discipline. In the future, the knowledge taught will be based on unifying concepts offered by nano, bio, info, and cognitive sciences throughout the educational establishment. Natural, engineering, social, and humanity sciences will converge. The corresponding basic concepts of unifying science will be introduced at the beginning of the teaching process in K-12, undergraduate, and graduate education. New tools will be developed by convergent technologies to provide high-quality, anywhere-anytime educational opportunities. NBIC science and engineering education will be made available to the majority of students and as continuing education to all interested adults.

No single discipline can describe or support the converging technologies by itself. Different disciplines may play a leading role in different applications. Interfaces are beginning to develop among the four NBIC domains, linking them in pairs, trios, and as a full quartet, in parallel with in-depth development within each field. The optimal process will not develop naturally: a systematic program must be created to encourage it.

Within academia, significant challenges must be overcome. Many teachers lack sufficient depth in their knowledge of mathematics and science, and not enough of the best students are attracted to science and technology. Also, qualified personnel who do understand science and technology generally get better-paying jobs outside the field of teaching.

0 0

Post a comment