Science Week research looks at how Irish people believe science impacts their lives

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SFI study found 76% of Irish people believe science has helped elderly people have a better quality of life

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9 November 2020 | 0

More than half of Irish people believe science or technology has helped their mental health. This comes from a survey for Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) by iReach as part of Science Week 2020.

The research revealed insights into the public’s beliefs on the impact of science on our daily lives. Over half of respondents (56%) said that science or technology has helped their mental health, rising to two-thirds (67%) amongst 18 to 34-year-olds. While more than three in four (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%.  

 

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The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has altered how Irish people think about their lives and how they want to live in the future. Over two-thirds of respondents (69%) agreed that Covid-19 restrictions have led them to appreciate nature more, highest amongst 18 to 34-year olds at 77%. Further, it 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.  

Indeed, many Irish people may not want to return to how they worked or how they travelled before Covid-19. It found that 40% of respondents never want to go back to how their workplace was pre Covid-19, with 46% stating they never want to commute again. Just 6% said the old way of working was worth the commute. One fifth of participants (21%) did not mind commuting but would like a greener alternative. 

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 for digital content, the platform will launch on 10 November with facilitated discussions until 13 November.

“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,” said Prof Mark Ferguson, director general, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the government of Ireland.

“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.

“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,” continued Ferguson. “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.”  

Science Week 2020 runs from 8 to 15 November. For more information visit www.scienceweek.ie.   

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