Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Office of Science and Technology
1. OST's Public Understanding of Science,
Engineering and Technology (PUSET) team's current objectives are
demonstrate the relevance of science,
engineering and technology (SET) to people's daily lives and its
importance to the economy;
generate interest in SET amongst
young people in order to develop and encourage lifelong interest
in these subjects and the consideration of science based careers;
create as many opportunities as possible
for people to learn about recent scientific developments and debate
ensure that there is dialogue between
the scientific community and the public, particularly on issues
which raise profound ethical and social issues; and
raise the general level of technical
literacy so that the public are in a better position to play a
more informed role in this dialogue. Equally important is to enhance
the scientific community's understanding of the public's interest
in and legitimate concerns about SET.
(a) What are the resources (staff and
budget) allocated to the PUSET unit
OST's Public Understanding of Science, Engineering
and Technology (PUSET) team has a staff of two and an annual programme
budget of £1.25 million from which it provides grants to
a number of organisations and initiatives to support its objectives.
(b) What contribution the PUSET unit
makes to (i) COPUS and (ii) the BA
OST does not make a direct financial contribution
to Copus, but OST pays Copus to run a grant scheme on its behalf.
In 2001-02: OST funding to Copus was £272,960
for a small grants scheme to support science communication activities
in the UK (this sum includes an allocation of £42,860 for
administration of the scheme). Priority was given to grants for
dialogue, Science Year and collaborative projects. The three elements
of the scheme are:
Seed grants, up to £3,000.
Science week grants, up to £3,000.
Development grants, up to £20,000.
In addition to OST's parliamentary grant in
aid to the Royal Society includes provision for the Royal Society's
own support for Copus and its grants scheme.
(ii) OST Support for the BA
Within the multiplicity of bodies now involved
in public engagement, understanding: awareness and appreciation
of science, the British Association (BA) is the only nationwide
membership organisation wholly devoted to this area. OST provides
funding to provide core support towards the fixed costs of the
BA underpinning all aspects of its work, and the central costs
for development and delivery of National Science Week.
OST works closely with the BA and has provided
it with core support since 1996-97, as well as ad hoc support
for specific projects and activities. OST provides a significant
contribution to the BA's core funding (just under one quarter
of its overall income), and support for a number of BA initiatives.
OST has now combined the core and ad hoc support into a
single grant. In 2001-02, OST provided £590,000 funding for
the BA. In 2002-03, the OST grant will be £542,000.
(c) What other projects the unit funds
Most of these projects came to an end in March
2002. We are not awarding new grants until our internal review
has been completed.
1. Scottish Science Trust (1999-2002): £110,000
to contribute to the core funding of the Scottish Science Trust
(the over-arching body for public understanding of science, engineering,
technology and medicine in Scotland). The specific aim of the
grant is to enable the Trust to assist with the development of
an overall operating strategy for revenue funding for Scottish
2. National Respect Campaign (2000-02):
£100,000 for a campaign, run by the African Caribbean Network
for Science and Technology, to highlight to black youngsters the
educational and career opportunities available in science, engineering
and technology. Key features will be a poster campaign using role
models, careers information, and a number of national launch events.
3. Y Touring (1999-2002): £285,000
to support Creating the Debate for the New Millennium. This project,
supported in partnership with the Wellcome Trust, addresses biomedical
issues through theatre and drama. Plays focusing on xenotransplantation,
mental health, genetic testing and therapeutic cloning have been
performed around the country, with actors stating "in character"
after the performance and taking part in a discussion with the
audience. Some of the plays have reached a wider audience through
4. Vega Science Trust (1999-2002): core
funding of £240,000 to enable Vega to develop into a major
force in promoting high quality science broadcasting.
5. Public dialogue (2001-02): £4,700
from OST as a contribution to a joint study with six of the UK
Research Councils. This project will provide practical guidelines
for developing public dialogue activities.
6. ECSITE-UK (2001-04): £150,000 to
the UK science and discovery centre network (hosted by the BA).
OST is funding the development of this network, which aims to
act as a single point of contact for science centres and facilitate
collaboration and effective use of resources.
(d) Whether it carries out PUS activities
The only activities that the PUSET team carries
out directly are events for DTI staff during science week.