Scientific culture, the broad term used to describe the cultural and intellectual fabric of Canada’s science and technology sector, is the term coined by sociologist Anne Condon.
Condon has been a scholar of science for decades, having studied the work of researchers at Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge.
She’s been one of the world’s leading experts on the science of culture and culture of science.
In this exclusive interview, Condon talks about what it is about the scientific community that makes it so diverse, why Canada is in a unique position to be at the forefront of the global movement, and what it means to have science and science research be part of a wider conversation.
Cointelegraph: What is scientific culture?
Anne Cournoyer: Scientific culture is a term that I coined when I was working in Canada in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, and it has been used since then to describe our unique relationship with science and the science community.
It is the way we work together to share ideas, to foster collaborations, and to share knowledge.
And the term scientific culture refers to a sense of the universality of scientific knowledge and our shared interest in sharing knowledge.
Cournoir: We are all in a community.
What makes us different?
Cournoway: The diversity of the Canadian scientific community is reflected in our diversity of interests and experiences.
There are many aspects to our scientific and technical culture, and they are important to us.
Culture has many aspects, and its very important to understand that science and its practitioners are not static entities.
Scientific culture can evolve over time, and some aspects of the cultural fabric will be more prevalent in certain sectors than others.
Science is not static; we can grow and change in the face of changing needs.
Curnoyer: There are a number of ways that science can be culturally influenced.
There’s the social element, which is the need for social interaction and community, as well as scientific communication.
Cancour: There’s also the cultural dimension, which involves the cultural practices that science requires, such as teaching and research, as opposed to just sharing knowledge or sharing data.
Cavenoyer: Some of the most important things about science and culture are the things that are culturally rooted in the country’s history and heritage.
In Canada, this means cultural values, values and beliefs.
The history of science in Canada is a history of scientific exploration and discovery, which has been shaped by a sense that science was uniquely capable of making discoveries and providing scientific information to people, and therefore, that science should be the first priority for society.
Carnoyer: Science and science in particular are also part of the larger cultural fabric of this country.
This cultural fabric is what gives us a sense in our daily lives that we are a very diverse, multiracial and diverse society, and that diversity is a strength of our society.
In addition to science, cultural values are important, too.
There is a great deal of attention paid to the history of Canada and science.
We have very strong scientific institutions in Canada, and we also have a long history of cultural and spiritual practices, which are important in terms of the kinds of ways we learn, interact and think.
Cavanoy: Do we need to define scientific culture in the same way that we define scientific knowledge?
Cavenoway: In the words of the late sociologist Margaret Mead, scientific culture means “the deep understanding of the meaning of things.”
Science and the scientific enterprise have always been about that understanding.
Science, culture and knowledge are interrelated.
Scientific and cultural communities work together.
Cownoyer: Is the scientific and cultural community different from the broader scientific community?
Cavanoyer: Not necessarily.
The scientific community, to the extent that it is able to, is very much in the public eye.
But science and scientific knowledge are more than what we do as scientists.
Science and scientific culture are not a static thing.
Cawnoyer: We know that the science that we do is not the same thing that the rest of the scientific world has.
There can be differences in the way that scientists are taught and the ways in which they engage with other scientists.
And there is a huge diversity of knowledge across the world.
Science itself is not monolithic.
There will always be some scientists who are more successful at what they do and others who are less successful at it.
But it is a continuum.
Condroy: So the scientific culture is not a monolithic thing.
Science has many diverse elements.
Science can be cultural, or it can be scientific.
Science also involves social interactions, which can be very different from scientific practices.
Ccarnoyer, a senior research fellow at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), discusses why we need a diversity of scientific disciplines, and how to foster scientific research.
Cairney, a postdoctoral fellow at CIHR, discusses why it is important for the federal government to recognize and