Saturday, March 08, 2008

Celebrating Year of Science 2009

2009 is the Year of Science, with hundreds of organizations planning a wide range of events aimed at engaging the American public in celebrating the benefits science brings to us.

The Year of Science is being coordinated by the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), a grassroots network - composed of more than two hundred participating organizations representing universities, scientific societies, science centers and museums, government agencies, advocacy groups, media, educators, businesses, and industry - formed in response to recent concerns about national scientific literacy.

COPUS grew out of a concept paper that Judy Scotchmoor (Univ. of Calif. Museum of Paleontology) and I wrote that led to NSF-sponsored workshops in 2006. Now, the American Inst. of Biological Sciences (AIBS) hosts the national COPUS headquarters in Wash. DC.

At least 10 regional COPUS hubs are in place or forming. For the past two days, Judy and COPUS staff members Sheri Potter and Holly Menninger have been in at the University of South Florida in St. Petersberg meeting with the regional hub leaders to strategize, share best practices and prepare for adding new regional hubs.

The official announcement of YoS2009 came out the other day and said, "COPUS participants are crossing traditional scientific disciplinary boundaries and partnering with others within their communities to develop activities, programs, and special events in support of Year of Science 2009. By working together to coordinate programs and events that explore the overarching YoS09 theme, “How we know what we know,” COPUS participants are aiming to engage the general public in dynamic ways that will makes science personally meaningful and locally relevant." [above left: strategizing with Kimberly Kandros, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and Roger Harris of Sigma Xi, before the tornado warnings for central Florida]

I expect that we will be forming at least one hub in Arizona, and possibly three - centered in Tucson, Phoenix, and Flagstaff. Any groups in Arizona interested in participating, give me a holler. It's free to join the COPUS network and easy.

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