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To prepare future generations of professionals who will sustain U.
Laying out strategies to achieve these educational goals and then describing existing programs and future directions, this chapter follows closely the report prepared by the Panel on Astronomy Education and Policy. Astronomical discoveries captivate the human imagination by connecting to deep and long-standing questions about our origins and the nature of the universe in which we live.
Awareness of the vastness of the universe, the extraordinary forms that other worlds can assume, and the place of our home planet in space and time inspires wonder in people of all ages. With the exception of medicine, no other scientific discipline has seen its new accomplishments featured so often on the front pages of national newspapers and the covers of national magazines. Moreover, astronomy has become the focus of an array of publications dedicated to amateurs and students.
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At the heart of enhancing public awareness of and appreciation for science is effective communication with the general public about discoveries made in the research community. Responsibilities for broad dissemination of new knowledge in astronomy are shared by the agencies that support research and by scientific and academic institutions, professional organizations, and individual astronomers. Tremendous public. The committee believes that enhanced public awareness of the equally notable achievements of NSF-funded science from optical, infrared, and radio astronomy ground-based facilities is essential.
The importance of broad visibility is clear in an era when all avenues of federal spending are scrutinized by a fiscally responsible Congress. The committee recommends that the National Science Foundation invest in advancing broad understanding and appreciation of science by improving public recognition of the achievements of NSF-funded science and facilities, with initial emphasis on subjects with wide public appeal, such as astronomy.
Better communication with the public would require that the NSF establish a direct interface with the media by appointing several dedicated press officers who would stay in close communication with NSF program officers and individual scientists and would be assured of adequate technical support. In addition, NSF should strengthen its presence on the Internet by developing informative and stimulating Web pages addressed to the public and designed to dramatize the scientific achievements sponsored by the NSF.
The effort to communicate more effectively should also include increased investments in state-of-the-art displays at centers and facilities supported by the NSF. Sophisticated Web pages dedicated to informing the public of the scientific discoveries made at these facilities must be maintained, and outreach into the local communities should be supported.