Science Week: How Science Can Improve Our Lives

By Gemma Creagh - Last update

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As part of Science Week, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) investigated the Irish public’s views on how science impacts their everyday lives and where they would like to see changes in the future. This year, the focus for Science Week 2020 is ‘Choosing our Future’ – supporting conversations amongst the public on how science can improve our lives.

How Science Can Improve Our Lives

The research revealed insights into the public’s beliefs on the impact of science on our daily lives. On the area of health, the research found that over half of respondents (56%) said that science or technology has helped their mental health, rising to two-thirds (67%) amongst 18 – 34-year olds. While more than 3 in 4 (76%) think science has helped elderly people have a better quality of life.

When asked about their hopes for the future and where respondents would like to see science have a positive impact, healthcare came out on top at 82%, followed by climate action at 65% and flexible work options at 43%.

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted how Irish people think about their lives and how they want to live in the future. Over two-thirds of respondents (69%) agreed that the Covid-19 restrictions have led them to appreciate nature more, highest amongst 18 – 34-year olds at 77%. On our future and what Ireland looks like, the research showed that Irish people want to see more nature in their cities; (77%) of respondents across all demographics stated that they believe Irish cities should have more trees and forested areas.

The How Science Can Improve Our Lives research shows that many Irish people may not want to return to how they worked or how they travelled before Covid-19. 40% of respondents stated they never want to go back to how their workplace was pre Covid-19, with 46% stating they never want to commute at all again. Surprisingly only 6% say the old way of working was worth the commute. For one fifth of participants (21%) they stated that while they did not mind commuting, they would like a greener alternative.

Commenting on the research, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has facilitated greater focus on our priorities and conversations around our shared hopes for a brighter future and the vital role science and technology can play in developing solutions to the challenges we face. Today’s research provides an opportunity to hear from the Irish public on how Covid-19 has impacted their lives, what do they want to change or keep, and what role can science play in shaping Ireland.   

“Choosing our Future is the theme for Science Week 2020 and core to this is providing the opportunity for the public to engage with the scientific community. To facilitate these conversations, one of the many virtual activities taking place during Science Week is an online platform, Choosing Our Future which will host discussions live during Science Week, from Tuesday 10th – Friday 13th. I was delighted to see in today’s research that 61% of respondents stated that they feel they engage with science in their daily lives. We hope this Science Week that through the virtual events and the platform the public have further opportunities to share their views on the role science has on the future of Ireland.”  

Modelled on the approach taken in the Irish Citizen’s Assemblies, the Choosing our Future Public Forum will run during Science Week to facilitate discussions between the public and the research community. Developed by ADAPT, the SFI Research Centre, the platform will launch on Tuesday 10th of November with facilitated discussions until Friday 13th November.

The platform will focus on several topics from how we learn, to our physical activity and its impact on our health to the future of work and vaccines.

For more information on Science Week, the platform and the great variety of virtual events taking place this Science Week visit

Thinking about studying science at college? Interested in pursuing a career in science?

Now in its 25th year, Science Week 2020 will take place from November 8th to 15th and to mark the event we thought we’d take a look at some of the options that are open to you if you choose to study science in college and pursue a career in science. Read here.

Gemma Creagh

Inclusive Mobility Research Findings
The Student Perspective of Online/ Remote Assessment


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