Taiwanese scholars working on films to promote science literacy | Culture | FOCUS TAIWAN


Taipei, March 18 (CNA) A series of eight documentary films that delve into the role of science and technology in several high-profile societal events in Taiwan have recently been released, thanks to an approach by scholars aimed at promoting science literacy.

The premiere of the first part of the series — which looks at how scientific fact has been used to establish causation in an ongoing tort litigation against RCA, an American home appliance maker founded in 1919 that had an operation center in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan, from 1970-1992, was held Friday at National Chengchi University.

From the lens of science, the series dissects the RCA case and others to reflect on the application of science in understanding socio-technical controversies and its limits in characterizing such problems, Tu Wen-ling (杜文苓), head of the project, said at a pre-premiere press conference.

“We hope that the films will enhance knowledge about science, which can help protect against health and environmental risks caused by misuse of technology and expand the use of science in the quest for justice,” said Tu, a professor at the university’s Department of Public Administration.

Initiated three years ago, the project has involved participation of a group of academics whose expertise range from public health, biotechnology, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, science education and mass communication, to public policy in the interdisciplinary field of science, technology and society (STS) from five other universities.

The films, produced by award-winning Dong Tai Communication, also tackle subjects such as discharge of contaminated water generated during the refining process for precious metal, pollution control in the petrochemistry industry, as well as the safety issues exposed by the gas explosion from industrial underground pipelines in Kaohsiung in 2014.

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Yang Bei-chang (楊倍昌), head of the Taiwan Science, Technology and Society Association, hailed the documentaries as a milestone in the development of collaboration between scientists and social scientists on addressing challenges facing society today.

A professor at the department of microbiology and immunology of National Cheng Kung University, Yang said he has been experimenting in his laboratory for the past 25 years.

“Sometimes we think we have made contributions to mankind when our hypotheses can be tested through experiment, but the results remain unfathomable to most people without the help from social scientists who know how to convey what the results mean in ordinary language,” Yang said.

Kuo Wen-hua (郭文華), editor-in-chief of East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal (EASTS), suggested that the RCA film should be dubbed and subtitled in English to set it up for circulation at the annual meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science in Sydney in August.

EASTS has been accepted for an STS Across Borders exhibition for the Sydney meeting, said Kuo, a professor at Institute of Science, Technology and Society of Yang Ming University.

“Industrial development, while contributing to economic growth in East Asian countries, also results in environmental destruction. The documentary about the RCA case reflects whether each country is inevitably on a journey of self-improvement,” Kuo told CNA.

The first three parts of the series will be aired on Taiwan’s Formosa TV on March 24, 31, and Apri l7.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)
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