A lot has happened over the last two years since the new millennium (and this journal) began. It seems a little presumptuous to compare the great and terrible events that have occurred on the world stage, with the life of what is only a tiny journal devoted to communication, education and philosophy in science. But from a historical perspective, it is often during times of great political and social upheaval that science seems, almost by coincidence, to undergo its own revolution. As this journal marks its own second anniversary, I believe we are in such a period of change and I hope that this journal will be able to play its part, however small, in this process.
One of the defining moments of science, in its cultural context, is the “two cultures” debate initiated by C.P. Snow in the late 1950’s. In “Two Cultures or None?”, Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond surveys current cultural aspects of science in France and beyond. He calls for a broader training of researchers to counteract the alienation of science from society, first highlighted by Snow in the middle of the last century. France has taken the lead in debating this problem, and in previous issues we have published articles by Dominique Lecourt and Marie-Geneviève Séré on this subject.
Broadening the curriculum is a theme promoted by Tony Clear in “Information Technology Postgraduate Education: Professional Partnerships versus Discipline Silos?”. He explains how the masters degree in IT at Auckland University of Technology is designed to encourage students to be both well grounded in their discipline as well as “multifaceted, adaptable individuals”.
Continuing the theme of “teaching”, David Carr argues critically in “Is Teaching a Skill” on concentrating too much on the “craft” of the art and craft of teaching, and therefore seeing education too much in terms of skill, rather than creative flair. He also underlines the moral or ethical dimension which is seen today as more and more important in science education.
Some of my former colleagues in astronomy might find the description of the Hubble telescope in Rocío Jiménez’s article “Marketing the Hubble Space Telescope” a little unusual. The article is a translation from the Spanish, and describes, in somewhat metaphorical terms, the “science” produced by Hubble in relation to society – especially to those for whom science is hardly more than “magic”. There is a danger that an excellent public relations industry can overstep the mark and fall into the trap of leaving science too far into the background behind the hype.