EghtesadOnline: Iranian scientific authorities and academicians gathered at the Science Ministry in Tehran on Sunday to mark World Science Day for Peace and Development.
Bahman Namvar Motlaq, the head of Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, and Deputy Culture Minister Mohsen Javadi were among key speakers at the event, IRNA reported.
Celebrated every Nov. 10, World Science Day for Peace and Development highlights the important role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. It also underlines the importance and relevance of science in daily lives.
World Science Day was proclaimed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2001 and celebrated for the first time in 2002, according to Financial Tribune.
By linking science more closely with society, the day aims to ensure that citizens are kept informed of scientific developments. It also underscores the role scientists play in broadening humanity’s understanding of the remarkable, fragile planet we call home and in making our societies more sustainable.
According to UNESCO, this year, the day will be devoted to the theme of open science, “a burning issue in the scientific community, which is gaining increasing attention by the non-scientific community as well”.
Open science is a tool for making science more accessible, scientific process more inclusive and the outputs of science more readily available for all.
During the Tehran gathering, Motlaq pointed to the sharp rise in the number of academic centers in Iran over the past few years and said, “Despite the increase in the number of universities, we are observing that these centers’ credibility is declining in the eyes of the people … Universities need to address real life issues to reclaim their lost stature.”
He also called for a comprehensive study of the universities’ impact on Iranians’ life.
Motlaq highlighted the importance of work on preserving natural resources and conducting research into issues that people deal with on a daily basis, like the application of social media platforms.
Addressing the gathering, Javadi said, “The focus of Iran’s educational system should shift toward scientific research. This requires cultural work. The Culture Ministry should endeavor to highlight works of art that promote scientific research.”
Zeynab Hamidzadeh, Iranian vice president for science and technology’s aide for women affairs, addressed another gathering at Alzahra University.
She said, “Muslim nations have made significant development in sciences. However, they are not efficiently collaborating in the field.”
According to Hamidzadeh, this has impaired scientific and technological advances. She called on Muslim nations to expand scientific collaborations.
Leaving No One Behind
The World Science Day for Peace and Development was themed “Open Science, Leaving No One Behind”.
Open science is a movement to make scientific research and dissemination accessible to all levels of society, amateur or professional.
One way that open science could lead to a sustainable future is by helping capture the experience of indigenous peoples in future assessments of climate change and to reflect indigenous knowledge on a global scale. In doing so, it could help to end the historical rivalry between Western science and indigenous knowledge systems.
“A global shift to open science would support countries in the environmentally sound management of chemicals and waste,” said Jacqueline Alvarez, senior program management officer for the Chemicals and Health Branch of the UN Environment Program.
“Research on the growing impact of emerging issues on human health and the environment is crucial for building effective development plans. Likewise, the assessment of risks and monitoring of environmental trends can play a decisive role. Making that research available to a wider audience allows us to act sooner on the most urgent issues, and in doing so to bridge science to policy and policy to science.”
The divide between science and traditional knowledge is largely driven by the inability of experts on both sides to fully understand each other’s concepts.
Academic texts on indigenous knowledge systems have almost exclusively been written by Western scientific researchers. This not only acts as a funnel for traditional knowledge, but it is also a one-way street. Without a good understanding of science by traditional knowledge holders, there is no way for these two knowledge systems to work together effectively and sustainably.
Open science could help alleviate this issue by opening up science so that a more diverse group of people have access to it, including traditional knowledge holders.
This could drive understanding and encourage collaboration between scientific researchers and traditional knowledge holders. Not only will this improve chances of a sustainable future, but it will also dismantle colonial structures that persist in societies, politics and economies of the modern world.