Last week scientific society presidents, executive directors, and other officers came together to discuss this pressing question: How can scientific societies adapt and thrive given the sociological, technological, and cultural changes that are shifting the role that these societies play today? The event, hosted by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, included thought provoking presentations by Race for Relevance author Mary Byers, nonprofit consultant Richard Brewster, and science sociologist Ed Hackett. These speakers shared their expertise and engaged the participants in a dialogue about:
The topics resonated with the society leaders present, who represented 22 scientific societies. These individuals were grateful to probe these issues with like minded peers and to begin a dialog about how we can move forward building on one anothers knowledge and experiences. Many topics were identified for further exploration including how the transitional nature of society leadership limits forward movement, how to rethink member services, ways to increase participation of early career scientists, and how to ensure programs are achieving their intended impact. AIBS will continue to explore these topics through community dialogs and provide data from current research that will inform the conversations.
For those of you who would like to learn more, we have put all the speakers slides and audio recordings of the presentations on the AIBS Web site. We invite you to download them and listen to the day's conversations. If you have ideas, questions, thoughts, or would like to be engaged in follow-up conversations, please let us know!
It is incredibly important that as a community we respond to these changes strategically so that we can continue to fulfill the important function and role that scientific societies serve for the science we advance.