News: AAAS News & Notes
28 January 2005
Edited by Edward W. Lempinen
AAAS Plays Key Role in U.S.-UNESCO Renewal
Twenty years after the United States left UNESCO, AAAS is playing a central role in building a renewed relationship and in encouraging the American science and technology (S&T) community to be more deeply involved with the international body.
In November, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell named AAAS to help represent S&T interests on the new United States National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, formed after President George W. Bush moved to rejoin UNESCO in 2003. That followed an international conference organized by AAAS last June, which brought officials from the United States and around the world to UNESCO headquarters in Paris for discussions on improving science education.
And at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., next month, AAAS will host top officials for a symposium on the future of U.S.-UNESCO relations.
"Since the United States' return to UNESCO in October 2003, interest among Americans in the work of UNESCO has been tremendous,¡¨ said Louise Oliver, the U.S. ambassador to the organization. "Although UNESCO is an inter-governmental organization, it works closely with members of the civil societies of its member states. That is why I am so pleased that we now have a national commission, and I am even more pleased that one of the key members of the commission will be the AAAS. I am confident that the AAAS will bring vast and valuable expertise to UNESCO's crucial science and education sectors.¡¨
Powell expressed a similar sentiment in a 15 November 2004 letter to Alan I. Leshner, CEO of AAAS and executive publisher of the journal Science. Leshner will represent AAAS on the commission.
Powell, who was expected to step down in late January, appointed the commission to provide the U.S. government with advice and to serve as a liaison with groups interested in UNESCO's work. "AAAS not only has broad reach into S&T programs and communities,¡¨ Leshner said, "but it also has long experience in policy, education and media relations of concern to the commission's work.¡¨
UNESCO was founded in 1945, just after the end of World War II, to encourage collaboration among nations on education, science, and culture. The United States left the organization in December 1984, citing its increasingly ideological agenda and financial mismanagement.
Even then, AAAS remained engaged with the organization in areas such as science and engineering education, women in science, and sustainable development.
In announcing plans to rejoin, President Bush acknowledged UNESCO's reforms and expressed a desire to collaborate in its efforts "to expand and improve education, promote scientific progress and press freedom, enhance understanding, and protect cultural heritage worldwide.¡¨
The National Commission was established on 20 October 2004. The current members¡Xnearly 90 in all¡Xinclude public officials, private citizens, and nongovernmental organizations that span the spectrum of American science, culture, and education groups (see www.state.gov/p/io/unesco/).
In December, AAAS's Consortium of Affiliates for International Programs convened a roundtable on developing the commission's agenda. "One reason we had this meeting is that many of the professional societies want to make sure that we don't lose momentum in the activities ongoing while the commission is getting organized,¡¨ said Shere Abbott, chief international officer at AAAS.
At the AAAS Annual Meeting, the three-hour symposium "UNESCO: Opportunities Upon U.S. Reentry¡¨ is scheduled for Saturday, 19 February 2005, at 2pm It will feature Ambassador Oliver as well as top officials from the State Department, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and AAAS, among others. For further information, see http://php.aaas.org/meetings/MPE_01.php.
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 nominee's institution.
Nominations undergo review by the Steering Groups of the Association's 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 13 May 2005. 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.
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