Magnus Breidne is Vice President –International Affairs at the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA). He joined IVA in 2011 after a 7-year long stint as Swedish Science Counsellor in Beijing 2004-2010. He has a PhD in Physics from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, has served as Director at the Institute of Optical Research 1995 -2000. He has been board member at numerous start-up companies in Scandinavia, South Korea and Canada; chairman of the Board at Ignis A/S a Norwegian high-tech company listed at the Norwegian stock exchange. He is a Fellow of the SPIE and the Optical Society of America.
The term scientific literacy has eluded precise definition ever since it was coined in 1958. Many definitions have been proposed but no consensus has been established, still retaining the use of ‘scientific literacy‘is appropriate. The meaning of the term has evolved over time and it means different things to different stakeholders. However, generally three dimensions of scientific literacy are considered; content knowledge, understanding of science as a process, and last but not least impact of science on the individual and society. This presentation will focus on the third dimension–the relationship between (engineering) sciences and society put in a Swedish context. It will claim that the level of understanding needed for informed engagement with contemporary science related issues is the most critical aspect of scientific literacy for people in today’s modern society. The work of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences on informing parliamentarians and other key decision makers, as well as the general public, on solutions to societal challenges based on facts or evidence based policies will be presented.