Public Understanding of Science, Technology & Economics
This long-standing multifaceted program aims to give people a keener appreciation for the increasingly scientific and technological world in which we live and to convey some of the challenges and rewards of the scientific and technological enterprise.
The program's primary aim is to build bridges between the two cultures of science and the humanities and to develop a common language so that they can better understand and speak to one another--and ultimately to grasp that they belong to a single common culture.
The Foundation has established a nationwide initiative that works through programs in books, theater, film, television, radio, and new media to commission, develop, produce, and distribute new work and new initiatives that focus on science and technology for the lay public.
The Program supports the use of:
- Books: classic works such as Richard Rhodes's The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Dava Sobel's Galileo's Daughter, Jared Diamond's Collapse, and more recent works such as Stuart Firestein's Ignorance: How it Drives Science, Mark Kurlansky's Birdseye, and Benoit Mandelbrot's The Fractalist
- Television: shows such as The Poisoner's Handbook on The American Experience, James Cameron's Deep Sea Challenge upcoming on National Geographic, and the two-part PBS series Brains on Trial
- Film: films such as A Birder's Guide to Everything, I Origins, Computer Chess, and Robot & Frank
- Radio: programs such as BURN: An Energy Journal, Radiolab, and Science Friday
- Theater: plays such as Isaac's Eye, The Explorers Club, and Proof
- New Media: productions such as the World Science Festival, projects such as the New York Hall of Science's interactive ebook "False Conviction" on science and the Innocence Project, and a virtual chemistry set for iPad being developed by the Chemical Heritage Foundation
to reach a wide non-specialized audience.
In 2004 the Foundation received the National Science Board's Public Service Award that cited the Public Understanding Program. Program Director Doron Weber has accepted on behalf of the Foundation the PBS Leadership Award, the Nielsen Impact Award for Film, the Council of Foundation citation for "visionary funding decisions of foundations in using media for their program goals" for a new web series, and the Gold Communicator Award for a documentary about the Foundation's history. This renowned program has been chronicled by such publications as The New York Times, Boston Globe, Fortune, and Filmmaker Magazine.