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One of Thomas Jefferson's worst fears about the fledgling American democracy was that an uninformed electorate could invite an unquestioned ideological agenda and lead to abuse. Perhaps most vulnerable to this abuse is the growing role of science and technology in our society. The massive research, development, engineering, and production infrastructure that has evolved over the last half century, and particularly the role of government in that system, is undergoing fundamental change at a frenetic pace. Moreover, the pace of discovery, knowledge creation, and diffusion of that knowledge in information and biotechnology, for example, leaves little time for society to absorb the implications of such developments and, hence, to face many of the policy issues that arise in their wake. Yet the impact of science and technology on our society grows in scale and scope every year. Information privacy, regulation of the internet, genetic testing, cloning, and many more are but a few recent issues that develop on an almost daily basis. In an increasingly technology-dependent world, the task of keeping the electorate and the public policymakers knowledgeable enough to make informed decisions will become extremely difficult.

Through chapter-based activities and partnerships with other organizations, Sigma Xi supports activities that serve to educate the public and elected officials about the nature and conduct of science.


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