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Explore, Empower, and Engage! Science’s Greatest Challenge

March 1, 2007

 

AIBS member organizations and other scientific groups are invited to participate in Year of Science 2009 and become part of the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science, a nationwide effort to engage the American public in activities that will stimulate their interest in, and appreciation of, the process of science.

Progress in science has been so great that it is taken for granted, and even breeds a widespread complacency. The biggest challenge to the scientific enterprise today is not to achieve deeper understanding of genomes or ecosystems or black holes—that understanding is coming along just fine. The challenge that matters now is to make sure that science is taken seriously. Scientists need to convince people that we have developed honest procedures for understanding how the world works, that we can put confidence limits around most of our conclusions, and that our track record shows we have achieved reliable, if still incomplete, knowledge.

A general public with an understanding and appreciation of the nature of science is a prerequisite for a skilled workforce that can compete in a knowledge-based global economy, make informed decisions about relative risks such as medical treatments and other quality-of-life issues, and engage in public policy discussions involving science and technology.

Year of Science 2009 activities will include

  • A national year-long celebration of science to engage the public in science and improve public understanding about the nature and processes of science.

  • Integration of efforts with the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS; www.copusproject.org), a grassroots effort linking universities, scientific societies, science advocacy groups, science media, science educators, businesses, and industry in a peer network having as its goal a greater public understanding of the nature of science and its value to society.

  • Creation of a Year of Science 2009 Web site and resource center to coordinate and promote 2009 activities. The Web site will include suggested activities and kits, a searchable database of events, an interactive map of events, a blog, a press room, and links to content in the Understanding Science Web site currently under development at www.understandingscience.org.

  • Opportunities to mark 2009 as the anniversary of seminal events in the history of science: the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and of Abraham Lincoln, founder of the National Academy of Sciences, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

  • Collaborations with communications experts on framing scientific communications to promote understanding by the general public and by particular public constituencies.

  • Summary reports, other deliverables, and follow-up plans after the end of 2009; opportunities to continue collaborating on public understanding of science projects through the COPUS network.

Participating organizations in Year of Science 2009 will automatically become part of the COPUS network and will have access to the brands, logos, media coverage, other publicity materials and databases that are developed for this and related projects. They will be updated regularly on organizations’ plans for this year-long celebration, and they will receive assistance in planning their own events to conform to the overall themes for 2009.

To learn more about Year of Science 2009 and how to participate, visit www.yearofscience2009.org.

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