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Nation of Curious Minds

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – New Zealand, online 29 July 2014

On 29 July 2014, the New Zealand Government launched a new plan to encourage and enable better engagement with science and technology across New Zealand society.

The plan, A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara, recognises the important role scientific knowledge and innovation play in our lives and in creating and defining New Zealand’s future, economically, socially and environmentally.

A Nation of Curious Minds sets out the following goals for the next ten years:

  • more science and technology competent learners, and more choosing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related career pathways
  • a more scientifically and technologically engaged public and a more publicly engaged science sector
  • a more skilled workforce and more responsive science and technology.

Three key areas of action and an integrating action have been identified for the first three years of the plan.

The action areas are:

  1. Enhancing the role of education
  2. Public engaging with science and technology
  3. Science sector engaging with the public.

The integrating action is a web-based participatory science platform to engage students, communities and scientists in participatory research.

The action areas will not operate in isolation and a number of the initiatives mentioned in the plan will apply across the three action areas.

About science in society

The Science in Society project has its roots with the National Science Challenges Panel.  The Panel’s 2013 report identified a special leadership challenge for the Government in improving understanding of science and technology through the education system and by promoting public engagement in science and technology.  The Panel saw the leadership challenge as the most important of the challenges and the one of highest priority.

This is a joint project between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Education, with advice from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser.  A range of government agencies and stakeholders in the education and science sectors, along with business, museum and Māori stakeholders provided feedback on a draft of A Nation of Curious Minds. It draws some of its ideas from activities already underway at the local and national level that are encouraging and enabling better engagement with science and technology across New Zealand society.