Sunday, December 18, 2011

Join an eclectic science outreach group for ideas, inspiration and networking

"The Public Understanding of Science" – It's a phrase bandied around often enough, but it can mean different things to different people. What does it mean to you? We want to learn from you, whether you are a science communicator, educator, researcher or just have a hand in helping folks understand and appreciate science.

To provide you the opportunity to share your knowledge, experience, challenges (and even pain), we're organizing the First Annual COPUS (Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science) Invitational at the Biosphere 2 facility from March 16 to 18, 2012. We're styling the Invitational as an "UnConference." It's a think tank, networking event, showcase, forum and a celebration – all rolled into one. You'll be joining an eclectic group of folks from across the country who are passionate about sharing science with the public.

Participation is primarily by invitation but a small number of spaces have been reserved for open applications. The deadline for applications is January 15, 2012. (

In the spirit of the UnConference we are inviting attendees to drive the agenda. When you register, you'll be asked for your thoughts and opinions on the topics that you think would be most relevant to your interests.

We've invited several dozen dedicated and accomplished writers, artists, editors, teachers, and yes, scientists, to participate in this unique event. Together, we'll brainstorm on the challenges of helping a broader audience to realize the value of scientific thinking as well as the benefits science brings to their daily lives.

We don't have a strict mandate for the UnConference. Our goal is to provide attendees with ideas, inspiration and networking opportunities that will help them in their day-to-day work, outreach and professional aspirations. The event will provide interaction across domains of science outreach that don't normally interact but that need to. Collectively we will learn from each other and develop some key concepts around which to drive future thinking to increase the public understanding of science.

[I am a co-founder of COPUS and continue to serve on the COPUS Core. We're delighted to help organize and host the first national conference in Arizona]

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