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AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy draws top scholars and public officials
Nearly two dozen top experts on science and national security convened in Washington D.C. last week for the first meeting called by AAAS's new Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy. The two-day workshop brought government officials and scholars together with the heads of science and security policy centers funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to discuss how the AAAS center can best serve as conduit between the worlds of policy and science.
The Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy opened in May; it is the newest of 16 centers funded under the MacArthur Foundation's Science, Technology and Security Initiative, a six-year, $50 million effort to enhance the prospects for international peace and security in a world roiled by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. The AAAS Center, funded by a three-year, $2.25 million MacArthur grant, is seen as a way to encourage exchanges between policymakers who need critical, reliable information and the community of scientists and engineers who have such expertise.
The MacArthur initiative has also been designed to help create 10 new tenured, interdisciplinary faculty positions at top U.S. universities for scientists or engineers engaged in international security research, as well as up to 100 positions for mid-career researchers and post-doctoral and advanced graduate students engaged in such security studies.
The AAAS Center is "to be a communications portal among policy-makers and MacArthur initiatives," said Alan I. Leshner, AAAS's chief executive officer, in opening remarks to the group. "The importance of this type of meeting is to help shape the form it will take."
During the workshop, held 12-13 July at AAAS headquarters, center directors made presentations on the research and other initiatives they are undertaking with the help of MacArthur funding. Their work is focused on such vital security areas as the threat posed by biological weapons; cyber-security; the early detection of bio-attacks; the security of postal systems; low-grade radioactive "dirty" bombs; the security of the electric-power infrastructure; and other science-related security issues.
Norman Neureiter, director of the Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy, emphasized throughout the two-day workshop that the Center seeks to play an informational and catalytic role in building relationships between the centers and the Washington policy community as well as assuring a good flow of useful information in both directions. Before joining AAAS, Neureiter served a three-year term as science adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and to Powell's predecessor, Madeleine Albright.
In the ensuing discussion, several roles were suggested for the Center:
- Coordinating the exchange of information among the centers;
- Convening special briefings for Washington policy-makers, including those in both executive and legislative branches;
- Helping to place alumni of the centers in policy positions in Washington;
- Helping to educate the public-and the science community-on crucial issues of national security.
- Maintaining a continuously updated web site of Washington policy events and the accomplishments of the MacArthur centers.
"Two quite positive things came out of this meeting," Neureiter said. "One is that the people from the university centers were very interested in the work of the AAAS Center and seemed enthusiastic about further involvement. And secondly, there was very positive response from the congressional and executive branch persons who attended the meeting about the chances for more interaction with the policy-oriented work at the universities."
Participants from the MacArthur-funded centers included: John Endicott, director of the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology; Harold Feiveson, senior research policy scientist in the Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University; Nancy Gallagher, associate director for research at the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, University of Maryland; George N. Lewis, research associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; William J. Long, professor and chair of the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology; Steven Miller, director of the International Security Program, Harvard University; Granger Morgan, head of the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University; Clifford Singer, director of the Program on Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana; John Steinbruner, director of the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, University of Maryland; Frank N. von Hippel, co-director of the Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University; and Peter Zimmerman, chair of Science and Security, King's College, London.
Guest speakers included John Marburger, director, Office of Science & Technology Policy, White House; U.S. Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey; John P. Holdren, MacArthur Foundation board member; Ken Alibek, George Mason University National Center for Biodefense; Charles B. Curtis, president and chief operating officer, Nuclear Threat Initiative; Arthur H. Hopkins, director, Technology Development Directorate, Defense Threat Reduction Agency; James Kelly, assistant secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs and chief U.S. negotiator for nuclear talks with North Korea; Wyn Jennings, program director, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and Melvin Bernstein, director of university programs, Department of Homeland Security.
Edward W. Lempinen
20 July 2004