Democracy’s Duty to Open Science

In my role as a NASA TOPS Community Panelist, I participated in a meeting hosted by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) at the White House (EEOB) yesterday. I thank Lisa-Joy Zgorski of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for encouraging me to write down a comment I made during our meeting. I also thank my colleagues at 2i2c and NASA TOPS.

Democracies have long recognized that citizens need to be able to read and write. Literacy is a requirement for citizens to vote and participate in governance. Citizens in a democracy have a right to literacy; democratic governments have a duty to literacy.

Citizens in democracies today need more than reading and writing skills. Effective participation in the democratic process requires citizens to have skills to learn and understand themselves, society, and the universe. Citizens need access and tools and skills to use information. Citizens in a democracy should have a right to participate in science — the collective human enterprise to understand. Democratic governments have a duty to open science.