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Increasing Scientific Literacy

Children learning science at the Smithsonian

I am pleased to share with you the first in an occasional series of thought pieces on important issues that sit squarely at the intersection of America's future and that of the Smithsonian.

The first topic—the nation's urgent need to improve the scientific literacy of its citizens—is critical to our national security, our ability to compete economically, and our very quality of life. The statistics that establish decreasing scientific literacy in the United States are well documented and ideas on how to address it plentiful.

More than a few agencies and organizations are working on discrete pieces of the problem. What’s missing is a coordinated approach that will mobilize all stakeholders—parents, scientists, media, educators, public institutions, and more—to formulate a concrete plan of action.

This paper serves as a call to action for the Smithsonian and like-minded institutions. The Smithsonian is willing and able to facilitate a discussion about a course of action for the future. A long tradition of fruitful collaboration with academia, federal agencies, and professional organizations has made us a natural convener—a role we would be honored to play.

Wayne Clough
Smithsonian Institution

Increasing Scientific Literacy: A Shared Responsibility »