15-16 December 2018
Gandhi Bhavan
Jadavpur University, Kolkata

Science has impacted our daily life in a myriad different ways. In today's world many of the things which we have taken for granted, like instant light at the press of a button, are gifts from science. However, science is not about just technological development and innovation; science is a world-view; it is a particular way of looking at the material world; it has a distinct methodology of understanding the world around us; it inculcates a particular way of thinking and it has a social commitment. The philosophy of science is distinct from other categories of philosophy, ancient and modern. Unfortunately, our education system is almost entirely geared towards the technical aspects of science only; its methodology, its philosophy and world-view are given only a cursory treatment if at all. Our education particularly at the school level does not teach the learners to think rationally and act logically. As a result, though our Constitution enjoins the citizens to adopt and promote scientific temperament, virtues like rationality, objectivity and a robust skepticism have not taken a deep root in the psyche of the contemporary Indian society. Inevitably, there is a disconnect between society and science, which has proved to be detrimental both to the Indian society and the Indian science. Vast sections of the people are not able to lift themselves out of their degrading situation and the Indian science is languishing because of the lack of social support.

Breakthrough Science Society, a voluntary organization committed to science, culture and scientific outlook, has taken a small step for addressing this problem by planning to hold a National Conference on "Integrating Science with Society".

Tentative session plan

First Day:

Inauguration (10AM)

Philosophy of Science (10.30AM-12.30PM): The correct method of seeking truth about nature has been subject of debate over the last two centuries. Schools of thought like materialism, idealism, positivism, post-modernism, and spiritualism have waged and are still waging battle for supremacy in the intellectual space. This session will seek the correct path in doing science. It will delve into issues like objectivity, falsifiability, reproducibility, causality, etc., and will discuss the complexity, uncertainty and humility in the enterprise of knowledge generation.
4 lectures: 25 min talk + 5 min Q&A

Cultivation of Scientific Temper (1.30PM-4PM): This session will discuss ways of inculcating scientific bent of mind among the common people. Issues like prevalent unscientific beliefs and superstitions, and ways of countering these with science will also be discussed.
5 lectures: 25 min talk + 5 min Q&A

Ethical Practice in Science (4.30PM-6.30PM): The cases of scientific misconduct are on the rise today. Unless the scientific community of India addresses this problem squarely, cases of unethical practice in science may tarnish the image of Indian science before the world community. This session will discuss the issues of scientific ethics and research misconduct (fabrication,distortion, plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results).
4 lectures: 25 mins talk + 5 min Q&A

Cultural programme (7PM-8.30PM): Music and drama on scientific themes

Second day:

Reforming Science Education (9.30AM-11.30AM): A persistent problem of the education system in India is that students learn science as a collection of subjects, as a set of information. Most students do not understand the way of thinking that science preaches and do not acquire a scientific temper. As a result, many people who have gone through the education system up to the highest level, still harbour many unscientific beliefs and superstitions. In that sense, our education system is not `scientific'. This session will discuss what changes should be brought in our education system to make it scientific.
4 talks: 25 min talk + 5 min Q&A

Panel Discussion "The role of scientists in society" (12 noon-1.30PM)
6 x 10 min talks + 30 min Q&A

Open Session (for the public): Problems facing development of scientific culture in India (3.00 PM-5.00PM)

Registration information:

Registration fee: Rs. 2000
Concessional rate for bachelor's and master's students: Rs. 1000

Express interest to participate

Registration will be completed only after payment of fee at the registration desk