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AAAS Launches Online Resource for Science and Technology in the 2008 Election
As the U.S. presidential nomination process builds to high intensity, AAAS, in partnership with the Association of American Universities and the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, has started a new Web site devoted to science and technology issues in the 2008 presidential campaign.
The site features the candidates' positions on the major science and technology issues; relevant news stories and published commentaries; survey information; white papers and other reports from policy organizations; election calendars; and a listserv for individuals interested in receiving updates on science, technology, and the election.
The project, Science and Technology in the 2008 Presidential Election, also includes a comprehensive section on five basic science and technology themes to watch during the election: competitiveness and innovation; education and workforce; health care; energy and environment; and homeland security. The Web site sponsors will contact the various presidential campaigns to encourage them to suggest relevant content for the site.
"As science and technology issues become a part of the political debate in 2008, it is important that voters have access to as much information as possible about the candidates and their views," said Joanne Carney, director of the AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Congress (CSTC). "We hope the project will provide this information, give the candidates access to voters who care about these issues, and engender a much-needed dialogue about science, technology, policy, and politics."
AAAS has engaged in the presidential campaign in several other ways including a special news section in the 4 January issue of the journal Science[Subscription required], published by AAAS, profiling the leading candidates and their views on science, along with a Des Moines Register commentary by AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner on presidential candidates and scientific leadership.
With a grant from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, the CSTC developed the project as a resource for voters to explore the candidates' science and technology positions, and to provide the research community with a vehicle for informing the candidates on emerging issues.
The material for the project is collected from official campaign websites and other resources, and will be updated as new information is released.
The project is the result of an informal working group composed of representatives from the Association of American Universities, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Center for the Study of the Presidency, National Academies, and other organizations. Meeting last year, the group urged the scientific community to get more involved in political dialogues and encourage the candidates to discuss science and technology during their campaigns.
"In previous elections, science issues have been reduced to one or two hot-button items, with no real discussion of how candidates would utilize science in their administration," said Robert M. Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities. "But the 21st century will witness a worldwide competition for scientific and technological mastery and it is our hope that the site will help voters determine how candidates would meet this challenge."
While the site may be among the first efforts to inform voters and candidates about a broad-range of science and technology issues, Carney said the motivation behind the project follows closely to a study released jointly by the Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP) and AAAS entitled Advancing Innovation: Improving the S&T Advisory Structure and Policy Process.
In 2000, AAAS and CSP held a one-day conference on science policy, presidential leadership, the evolution of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the importance of Congressional support for basic science research. The remarks were later condensed into the formal report, eventually becoming part of a six-volume CSP Presidential Transition Studies series delivered to the president-elect that highlighted pressing issues for the coming executive term.
Established in 1994, CSTC has a variety of projects that monitor and provide information to Congress on current science and technology issues in addition to assisting the science and engineering community in understanding and working with Congress. Started with a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and later the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund, CSTC publishes the newsletter Science and Technology in Congress monthly when Congress is in session and conducts regular briefings for congressional staff on current policy issues.
10 January 2008