About Curious Minds
Curious Minds recognises the importance of science and technology to the country’s future and works with communities, businesses and educators via new and existing initiatives.
Curious Minds is guided by A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara, A National Strategic Plan for Science in Society. It was launched in 2014, following the creation of the National Science Challenges.
Curious Minds identifies three outcomes for the project over the next ten years. These are:
- more science and technology-competent learners, and more choosing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related career pathways
- a more scientifically and technologically engaged public and a more publicly engaged science sector
- a more skilled workforce and more responsive science and technology.
The plan focuses on three action areas over the next three years and one key integrating action, each of which has specific initiatives. The action areas are:
- enhancing the role of education
- public engaging with science and technology
- science sector engaging with the public
- Participatory Science Platform.
The plan is intended to initiate a discussion about how stakeholders can collaborate and leverage existing and new activities to enhance public engagement with science and technology.
Contributors to the plan
The plan was developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Education and the Office of Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.
Many people contributed to the development of the plan, including the Science in Society Reference Group, representatives of science, education, business, Māori, crown research institutes, universities and other tertiary education institutions, as well as museums and other government agencies.
The Science in Society Reference Group
The Ministers of Science and Innovation and Education appointed a refreshed Science in Society Reference Group of experts in 2015. The refreshed Reference Group is composed of a mix of new and existing members to provide continuity and deliver an appropriate spread of expertise across science, science communication and education sectors.
The refreshed membership reflects the new focus, moving from developing the plan to providing feedback on the initial plan, monitoring progress on the implementation of actions, engaging and communicating with stakeholders as well as future development. The group’s new members have strong links to science and to business or industry. The group is expected to meet six-monthly to annually.
Encouraging Māori engagement with science and technology
A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara recognises and acknowledges the importance of Māori participation.
Mātauranga Māori is Māori knowledge that is dynamic, building from earliest traditions to future knowledge. Each of the three action areas and the integrating action in A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara will be developed in ways that respect whānau, hapū and iwi as the key conduits of mātauranga Māori and engagement, and focus on realising the potential gain for New Zealand through building capability in science and technology to support Māori economic development and management of natural resources.
In May 2012 the Government announced it would fund the National Science Challenges to find innovative solutions to some of the most fundamental issues facing New Zealand.
In February 2013 the independent National Science Challenges panel was tasked with identifying the most significant science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand. The panel submitted its report in March 2013 and in May of that year the Government announced ten research areas as New Zealand’s National Science Challenges. An 11th challenge was announced in September 2014.
The panel also recommended a Science in Society leadership challenge as central to the success of the National Science Challenges and the most important challenge if New Zealand is to responsibly apply science and innovation and benefit optimally from its investment in scientific research.
In May 2013, the Government formally accepted the Science in Society leadership challenge, with the Minister of Science and Innovation and the Minister of Education subsequently announcing development of A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara in November 2013.
A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara is the blueprint for the Science in Society project. It was jointly developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Education, with close involvement from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. The objective of the plan is to encourage and enable better engagement with science and technology across all sectors of New Zealand. A Nation of Curious Minds was launched in July 2014.
A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara sets out the objective and outcomes the Government wishes to achieve to strengthen the place of science in society over the next 10 years. It sets out the available evidence on where New Zealand is now and concludes by setting out a three-year plan of action to make progress towards the objective and outcomes.
Read more about the challenges on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website, which also includes links to the individual challenge websites.
How does this fit with what’s already going on?
There are many initiatives currently underway that encourage and enable better engagement with science and technology across all sectors of New Zealand.
A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara builds on some of these activities, and is a starting point to initiate discussion about how research organisations, educators, schools, families, whānau, communities, businesses and non-government organisations can collaborate and build on what’s already working in their area to increase their commitment to science and technology.
How will we know the plan is delivering?
A section of the plan is devoted to how the initiatives will be monitored and evaluated. As this is a new approach on a nationwide scale, the actions outlined in A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara will be monitored, reviewed and adjusted as they are implemented.