Sánchez Ron, an academic from the RAE, opens the Master's in Scientific, Medical and Environmental Communication

The Master\'s in Scientific, Medical and Environmental Communication opened its XIV edition with a talk on \"The two cultures, 50 years later?. José Manuel Sánchez Ron, an academic from the Real Academia Española (RAE), Professor in Scientific History at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and scientific communicator, gave the opening speech which focused on the analysis of the relations between scientific and humanistic culture, almost half a century after Charles Percy Snow set out to bring together these two poles of human knowledge.

The opening act was also attended by Montserrat Tarrés, Director of Corporative Communication and Institutional Relations at Novartis, Vladimir de Semir, Director of the Master\'s in Scientific, Medical and Environmental Communication, Pau Verrié, Director General of IDEC and José Manuel Sánchez Ron, Professor in Scientific History at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

Since its creation, this training programme has been sponsored by Novartis through the INCB (the Novartis Institute for Communication in Biomedicine). Over 600 students have completed the programme, which has organised talks by some outstanding and highly prestigious figures. As Montserrat Tarrés pointed out: \"This master\'s is a strategic move by the INCB and its aim is to work towards excellence in biomedical communication and facilitate co-operation and collaboration between researchers and communicators\".

Along this line of co-operation, the talk given by Sánchez Ron analysed the current state of relations between science and traditional culture. In this sense, the RAE professor stated that \"with the passing of time we have not freed ourselves from the differences between the two cultures, but the situation has changed greatly since Snow gave his famous speech in the Senate House at Cambridge University . At present, the barriers between science and literature are not so impermeable. There are many works and authors who have crossed the frontier\".

Literature is one branch of the arts which has begun to open doors and is a good \"antidote\" against the separation between scientific and traditional culture. As he pointed out: \"The fact that science pervades literature, that scientists are interested in writing or that novelists are interested in science, is fundamental in order to save the schism which separates the two cultures\".  For Sánchez Ron, communication is not enough to reach society: \"It is necessary, but something else is needed. For a long time I thought that it was a problem of education, that we needed more science in schools. But this is not enough, we have to move people through science and get to the hearts of those people to whom we want to convey the importance of science. Figures such as Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould are some examples of writers who have succeeded in crossing this barrier, in educating the mind as well as the soul\".

In this sense Vladimir de Semir emphasised that general and scientific communication are not only \"a way to educate society, but are also the backbone of today\'s society of learning. One of the reasons why society is in crisis is that it has not made a real effort to unite these two cultures\".

Despite this reality, Sánchez Ron indicated that science is appearing more and more in the media. \"This presence is not due to the importance of science, but to the historical circumstances we are living in. On the one hand, the environmental and energy problems we are faced with mean that science occupies an important place and any political decision depends on scientific judgement\". Along these lines, he called for increased participation by scientists to offer their opinions on current affairs.

Another cause in the increase in the media\'s coverage of science is biomedical science. Development in this field of research and its ?promise of scientific development\" means that information on these topics always ?has a place in the media? according to Sánchez Ron.

However, despite the fact that it is inevitable that scientific broadens its horizons, the academic warned it was \"better not to speak too soon. Anti-scientific attitudes have not disappeared. Science has its adversaries, either through ignorance or ideology. We must not forget that in the USA only 40% of North Americans agree with the theory of evolution\" and 48% in Great Britain , he concluded.