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Science in society: What young Brazilians think about S&T

Abstract

In this article, we present the main findings of the first survey conducted in Brazil on the public perception of science and technology (S&T) among youth ages 15 to 24 years old. The study was designed around a survey of 2,206 young people residing in urban areas. Results suggest that young people have a great interest in S&T (67%) and related topics, such as medicine and health (74%), and the environment (80%). They have a positive view of science and scientists and are in favor of investments in scientific research despite the country’s current economic crisis (94% said Brazil should not cut its investments in S&T). Most of them believe science affords humanity many (69%) or some (27%) benefits, while it also presents some (53%) or few (30%) risks. The study identified shortcomings in these young people’s knowledge: few were able to name a Brazilian scientist (5%) or scientific institution (12%). These young people are not frequent visitors to science museums (6%) or other spaces for communicating science, such as parks or botanical gardens (25%). The respondents voiced their opinions about social and political controversies in the realm of scientific research, such as vaccination, climate change, and the theory of evolution.

Key words
science communication; young people; youth; public perception of S&T

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