News: AAAS News & Notes
30 January 2004
Science and Policy
MacArthur Funds AAAS Center for Science, Security Policy
Responding to policy-makers needs for guidance from scientists and engineers in assessing and addressing terrorist and other threats to national security, AAAS has launched a new initiative, with funding for 3 years from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
The AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy will establish a forum to serve as a communications link among scientists, policy analysts and policy-makers concerned with national and international security policy.
We went to talk to people in the policy community in Washington, and found a tremendous appetite for the kind of information the new center will provide, said Kennette Benedict, director of the International Peace and Security Area for the MacArthur Foundation.
Just over 3 years after the terrorist strikes on September 11, 2001, shook the world, policy-makers continue to craft legislation that they hope will respond to threats of weapons of mass destruction, and to the potential release of biological, chemical, or nuclear or radiological materials. Frank von Hippel, a former assistant director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology, notes that 8 years after the demise of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, which once advised Congress on scientific and technological issues, federal legislators have few sources of technical advice.
Security policy is increasingly divorced from technical reality, said von Hippel, now co-director of Princeton Universitys Program on Science and Global Security and a professor of public and international affairs. This results in critical problems being ignored while funds are poured into programs that will make little difference to our security and may even be counterproductive.
The MacArthur Foundation funds a network of centers at universities in the United States and abroad that provide the institutions with incentives for creating a cadre of young scientists with expertise in security policy and in the technologies that are key to national security. The AAAS Center will provide a way to disseminate the knowledge developed in these and other academic research programs to policy-makers and, eventually, to a wider public audience, according to Benedict.
AAAS seemed a particularly good fit, Benedict said, because of its mission to engage the public in the work of scientists, and its long experience providing guidance to policy-makers on a number of science and technology issues. The Associations Science and Technology Policy Fellows Program, with its network of more than 1500 alumni, was also a draw.
We looked for an organization in Washington that could help transmit and translate research results, and to connect researchers with the demand from policy-makers, Benedict said. Also, AAAS is seen as neutral, with no political leanings.
AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner noted that the centers new directorto be hired in the next few monthswill play a highly visible role in carrying out the centers mission to bridge the worlds of academia and policy. He or she will build on the Associations history of providing guidance to legislators during other times of great challenge to national and international security.
This new Center will bring AAAS back to the forefront of work in an area where the Association had in the past a distinguished, productive history: the relationship between science, technology, and national and international security, Leshner said. Given the great current importance of security issues to people throughout the world, the work of this Center will help AAAS to better implement its core mission of advancing science and serving society.
Call for Nomination of AAAS Fellows
AAAS Fellows who are current members of the Association are invited to nominate members for election as Fellows. A Fellow is defined as a Member whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished. A nomination must be sponsored by three AAAS Fellows, two of whom must have no affiliation with the nominees institution.
Nominations undergo review by the Steering Groups of the Associations sections (the Chair, Chair-Elect, Retiring Chair, Secretary, and four Members-at-Large of each section). Each Steering Group reviews only those nominations designated for its section. Names of Fellow nominees who are approved by the Steering Groups are presented to the AAAS Council for election.
Nominations with complete documentation must be received by 14 May 2004. Nominations received after that date will be held for the following year. The nomination form and a list of current AAAS Fellows can be found on the AAAS Web site at www.aaas.org/about/aaas_fellows. To request a hard copy of the nomination form, please contact Linda McDaniel at the AAAS Executive Office, 1200 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC, 20005, at 202-326-6635, or at Lmcdanie@aaas.org.