Australian Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb pleaded for a comprehensive integrated strategy to place research and innovation at the center of Australia’s drive for future economic prosperity and social wellbeing. He hopes to follow Europe’s way to secure Australia’s future in a world increasingly driven by research and innovation.
“We cannot risk our future growth and competitiveness by cutting back now on investment in education, research and innovation that is necessary for long-term and sustained recovery”, Chubb quoted EU Commissioner Geoghan-Quinn.
Chubb sees that a lot of successful countries have a national strategy, from India to Japan and from Switserland to Taiwan. “Of the sixteen countries we looked at, two thirds of them have overarching bodies to coordinate programs. And in Australia – the conversation continues. The Australian Industry Group revealed a disturbing picture in this area. Young people in schools and universities are not acquiring the STEM skills we need for our future prosperity.”
The value of science in everyday life
“By 2025 we should have reached a point where Australians will better understand and value the science they use in everyday life, and where the STEM enterprise will be widely accepted as a central and visible source of solutions to societal challenges.”
“I am conscious that Carl Sagan was not alone when he said: We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science. In this context, we can’t take community support for granted – or expect that the community will accept what we say just because we say it.”
STEM complements humanities
“The investment in STEM education and research must therefore complement valuable work in the social sciences and humanities, work that is critical to our understanding and recording of our world, our cultures and our knowledge of society and relationships within society. It is work that we need in order to understand the societal context within which STEM operates – and it is that context that will shape the social compact – and therefore the extent to which STEM can be effective”, Chubb said.
The Chief Scientist found wide support for his plans, ranging from Australian businesses to the educatin sector. “Professor Chubb’s proposal to establish a National Innovation Council aimed at developing strategies to accelerate the translation of ideas into marketable goods and services, is a key step in transforming the economy and building the knowledge-based industries of the future,” Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said.