Meet our science publishers: Ben Rout
We meet Ben Rout, one of OUP’s team of science publishers, who was involved in creating the recently published DP Science companions for the International Baccalaureate (IB).
What’s your role? How did you get here?
I’m a Senior Development Editor specialising in developing science content in the International Education team at OUP. I trained as a chemist at undergraduate level and worked as a research scientist in the Materials Science department at AkzoNobel. After completing a Masters in chemistry studying polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs), I joined OUP as an editor in 2017 to support the development of our science titles in international schools.
What makes you passionate about science?
I’m passionate about science based on two principles: understanding and innovation. On the understanding level, science gives us the tools to explain the world around us. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of polymaths – the term used to describe thinkers in the Western renaissance who could purportedly know and do all. In today’s increasingly complex world, it’s impossible to be an expert in everything, but, with science skills, we have the ability to understand almost anything. There are the obvious skills, such as critical thinking, communicating, mathematical and digital literacy skills, but also there are also new skills emerging of equal importance: being able to challenge popular consensus, apply personal and cultural experiences, and elevate others and provide them a voice.
The second principle, innovation, speaks to these emerging transferable skills. Through these scientific principles, communities can navigate the issues that mean the most to them – whether its finding imaginative ways to handle climate change or untangling the deep inequalities between rich and poor – and work together to establish a fairer and safer society. To quote Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the OECD, “Science creates a sense of optimism that we can develop solutions for the problems in the world.”
I’m really proud of how we’ve been able to incorporate these principles into our recently published DP Science Course Companions. The diploma programme is taught in 150 countries as of May 2022. In these new editions, we made an effort to include more diverse examples of scientists throughout history to reflect the global nature of the DP. There is also greater representation of women in the new editions. We also focussed on recent science case studies to bring IB Science into the 2020s and show students how science fundamentals can be applied in relevant modern-day technological contexts. We also included hundred of practice problems across the three titles: within the print books, there are over 400 worked examples, over 200 data-based questions, and over 800 activities and practice questions. The print books are supported by the digital Kerboodle products, which have over 6000 practice questions in total.
What’s next for you?
I’m the publishing lead for our upcoming IB Science Study Guides, which are concise and accessible revision guides for students studying science in the IB Diploma Programme. I’m also currently editing our new IB Global Politics course companion, applying the same principles as my science work: improving representation of different cultures and societies, with a focus on transferable skills. Like our science publishing, we are looking at ways to keep the material current and cutting-edge through our supporting digital products, particularly against the backdrop of our fast-paced world and its ever-changing political developments.