Canada Has High Public Science Knowledge, Attitudes, Engagement
A new expert panel report, Science Culture: Where Canada Stands, released by the Council of Canadian Academies, helps to paint the clearest picture of Canada’s science culture and science culture support system in 25 years. The expert panel who conducted the assessment found Canadians excel in public science knowledge, attitudes and engagement; however they also determined there is room for improvement in some areas, including skills development.
• 93 percent of Canadians surveyed by the panel report being moderately or very interested in scientific discoveries and technological developments. Canada is ranked 1st out of 33 countries on this measure.
• Consistent with other countries, survey respondents who were: younger; male; highly educated; and/or had high incomes levels had a greater interest in science.
• Approximately 42 percent of Canadians surveyed exhibit a sufficient level of knowledge to grasp basic concepts and understand general media coverage of scientific issues.
• Canada ranks first on a science literacy index among countries with similar available data, though this ranking should be viewed with caution as science literacy has been increasing over time in most countries and data for other countries is less recent.
• Despite Canada’s strong performance internationally, more than half of Canadians surveyed still lack the level of science knowledge needed to understand current public debates about issues involving science and technology.
• Canada ranks first among OECD countries in overall post-secondary educational attainment, but only 20 percent of first university degrees are in the sciences and engineering.
• Immigration also plays an important role in supplying S&T skills: 51 percent of those who hold degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics are immigrants.
“Overall, our 14-member expert panel found that Canadians perform well across a range of science culture indicators,” said Arthur Carty, Chair of the Expert Panel. “It is important that we continue to strive for a society that looks to science to inform decisions and to broaden our world view.”