Survey: Science, Technology Critical to War on Terrorism NEW YORK
When it comes to the post-Sept. 11 future, U.S. college students predict more terrorist violence, but appear confident about the future and believe they are up to the challenges ahead — with some help from science and technology.
In a new Gallup survey commissioned by Bayer Corp. as part of its “Making Science Make Sense” initiative, a significant number of today’s college students report they are considering altering their career plans because of Sept. 11. They say they believe science literacy is important for average Americans to deal effectively with future terrorist threats and they overwhelmingly categorize themselves as science literate. They say their generation has had sufficient preparation in math and science to succeed in homeland security fields that rely on sophisticated high-tech tools, but they say the next generation needs a stronger preparation. And, they say their generation will produce the next Bill Gates, meaning a leader who will develop a new technology that will have a major impact on society.
In the report “Bayer Facts of Science Education VIII: College Students Look Ahead,” three-quarters of the participating students say the United States will face increasing threats from terrorists in the coming years. Almost all the students believe science, technology and their sophisticated tools are important in helping the United States meet future terrorist threats, with two-thirds calling them “very important.”
Most (seven in 10) say the country’s new focus on terrorism has made them more aware of the roles that science, technology and their sophisticated tools play in U.S. military, intelligence and homeland security fields. In addition, seven in 10 also affirm that new job opportunities will be created for them as a result of America’s new emphasis on homeland security. Of those, an average of one in 10 report seriously considering these new opportunities. When asked about their fellow students, they estimate an average of 12 percent of their classmates are seriously considering the possibility, too.
And, while making money will never go out of vogue (nearly eight in 10 say there will not be a shift away from careers that offer greater financial reward), two-thirds see a shift toward careers that benefit society and the public interest.
“Despite the students’ overall optimism, it’s clear from a number of voices in the survey that much more work must be done nationally to improve pre-college science and math education so that young people graduating and entering the work force are truly prepared for these new job opportunities,” says Dr. Mae C. Jemison, former astronaut and current science literacy spokeswoman for the initiative.
“Unfortunately, they’re not as prepared as they believe. Underperformance in math and science as seen in recent assessments of high school seniors … coupled with the fact that the majority who go on to college fail to continue taking math and science courses, further underscore the need for improvement,” Jemison adds.
The survey, conducted by the Gallup Organization, was based on telephone interviews with a national sample of 1,000 full-time college students attending four-year colleges.
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