“EDUCATION MUST NOT SIMPLY TEACH WORK – IT MUST TEACH LIFE.” – W. E. B. DU BOIS
In this issue of IMMpress Magazine, we discuss the impetus for education and outreach in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). As we head towards a new decade in the information age, we are more than ever faced with misinformation, fake news, and increasing group polarization via social media. Extremist political views fuel public distrust and embitterment against scientists and academics on their ‘ivory towers’. Amidst this, what can we, as scientists and educators, do to ensure the distribution of accurate information, and is it our responsibility to mold the next generation into critical thinkers and responsible knowledge users? Here, we encourage our readers to view education as a necessity for a meaningful life and a responsible society, and to consider our role in ensuring STEM education and outreach.
We begin this issue with an overview on STEM education, funding, and growth in Canada (pg. 8). A phenomenal in-depth analysis of nationwide STEM outreach initiatives reflects how far we’ve come in bringing science to the next generation while highlighting how much we still have to go to ensure equitable distribution of knowledge (pg. 12). Indeed, the lack of appropriate education has resulted in scientific illiteracy (pg. 24), the rise of ‘fake news’ (pg. 26), and public distrust in science (pg. 28). To solve these issues, we consider the roles of innovative teaching strategies (p. 11) and media (pg. 22, 23), the purpose of biomedical PhD programs in shaping the next generation of scientists (pg. 18), and the social significance of female scientists (pg. 20). Finally, in examining STEM education, we reflect on the success and future of our department’s M.Sc. in Applied Immunology program (pg. 15).
This issue touches upon a particularly important issue, and we are extremely grateful to the many writers, designers, and editors who have gone above and beyond to put together this astounding magazine. It is imperative that we, as scientists, not only pursue truth and knowledge for its own sake (or for our own sake), but also for the betterment of society. As the vanguards of scientific and technologic advancement, we are responsible for how technology is applied to everyday life, how information is disseminated, and how the public uses scientific knowledge to make responsible and healthy choices. As we head towards a new year, we hope our readership will enjoy this thought-provoking issue, and we wish everyone a warm, healthy, and joyous holiday season!