In 2021, we are counting on science to restore and rejuvenate our lives as we embark on the road to recovery. As the vaccine rolls out in meaningful numbers in the UK and around the world, for the first time in almost a year, hope is on the horizon, and it sits squarely on the shoulders of science.
Agree that science brings hope for the future
Agree science will make 2021 a better year than 2020
Agree science will make life better in the next five years
The correlation between hope and science isn’t limited to our desire to reinstate the close human connection, such as travelling and spending time with friends and family. Hopefulness at this moment includes priorities that science can solve beyond our health.
69% We are more environmentally conscious
92% Scientists are critical to our future well-being
58% Scientists and medical professionals are inspiring a new generation to pursue a STEM-based career in the future
In many ways, hope may be an outcome of the trust we have placed in science over the past 12 months. Trust in science one year into the pandemic, remains at the highest level we have ever seen it since tracking began [92%].
At the same time, scepticism is the lowest recorded [24%] since we started tracking the State of Science in 2018 and it is notable that it has dropped twice in the past year.
As trust grows, we appear to increasingly favour science over our personal beliefs and biases, as evidenced by a 7-point drop in the percentage of people who only believe science that aligns with their personal beliefs from the 2020 Pre-Pandemic Survey.
78% Defend science when someone is questioning it
86% There are negative consequences to society if science is not valued
We largely believe in following scientific recommendations to contain the spread of COVID-19—and a significant majority of us conform to always taking these recommended actions to stay safe during the pandemic:
86% Avoid large gatherings
83% Wear a mask in public settings
81% Avoid crowded or indoor settings
One year into the pandemic, it is too early to predict whether our renewed interest in science will cool off once we emerge from COVID-19, but there are some early indicators of susceptibility:
51% Believe the growth in science appreciation will continue beyond the pandemic
49% Predict science appreciation won’t last/or are unsure
Younger generations, including adult Gen Z (born 1997-2012) and Millennials (1981-1996), are more likely than Gen X (1965-1980) and Baby Boomers (1946-1964) to believe that appreciation for science will continue once the pandemic is over which brings an element of hope for the future.
93% Agree the world needs more people pursuing STEM careers
47% Have been more inspired to pursue a STEM career due to the pandemic
Fall-out from the pandemic, coupled with mainstream social justice issues, has ignited the focus on inequities for under-represented minorities.
63% Believe underrepresented minorities often lack equal access to STEM education
86% Believe we need to do more to encourage and retain girls in STEM education
With more diversity in STEM, science would achieve greater global collaboration between scientists, more innovative ideas, and new and improved approaches to existing research techniques.
With women of colour leading gender equality in STEM education, and many institutions focusing their efforts on greater diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM, we are proud of the direction the world is taking in achieving greater equity.
89% Agree corporations should play a key role in improving diversity within STEM fields. Of those who believe corporations should be involved in supporting STEM education, the top actions corporations are expected to take include creating resources for children to get involved in science, providing grants/scholarships to underrepresented students, hosting internships, summer camps and workshops to help students pursue STEM.
We are more concerned than a year ago about ocean plastics pollution, climate change, intensifying natural disasters, and air quality.
91% Agree we should follow the science to help make the world more sustainable
Sustainability may grow in importance in the future as younger generations form a larger proportion of the adult population: climate change has become more of a concern for younger generations over the last year [Gen-Z 65%] vs. [Boomers 55%]; and the pandemic has made them more environmentally conscious than their older counterparts [Gen-Z 80% vs. Boomers 61%].
Scientific collaboration is critical and in light of the pandemic, the world wants more investment in science. Cross-border and public-private sector collaboration are priorities.
Our exposure to countries sharing scientific knowledge and resources during the pandemic may have magnified the awareness and importance of cross-border collaboration. This applies to the private and public sectors as well, with a majority believing there should be more collaboration across public/private sectors to advance science [92%]. We can also deduce that the public sees a correlation between the impact of science, scientific funding, and policy.
93% Believe countries should collaborate to create solutions based on science as the world faces major challenges like the pandemic and climate change
91% Believe that in light of the pandemic, science needs more funding/ financial support
Corporations are expected to help, and given events over the past six months, the top three priorities people most want corporations to address are:
And to build a more sustainable future, specific actions companies should take, are: