News: News Archives
AAAS Participates in Euroscience Open Forum 2012
AAAS CEO Alan Leshner joined Dominique Ristori, director general of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, and others for a Euroscience Open Forum panel on "Science without Borders."
The need for greater inclusiveness in global research collaborations, escalating science-society tensions, and public engagement with science were the focus of AAAS contributions to Euroscience Open Forum 2012, Europe’s largest interdisciplinary scientific meeting.
“The balance and distribution of science around the world is shifting,” said AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner, executive publisher of Science, as part of a session on “Science without Borders.” Novel, science-based solutions to global problems will require easing cross-national competitiveness as well as increased diversification of the world’s scientific talent pool, he added.
Moreover, commonly agreed-upon global standards and values, related to issues such as scientific ethics, intellectual property, and access to information, will become increasingly important as additional countries enter the research arena, Leshner said at the conference, which took place 11-15 July in Dublin, Ireland.
He pointed to the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) as one example of how science leaders might work to address disparities in research funding and the quality of scientific output from place to place. Two other initiatives—the “European Research Area,” described by European Commissioner for Research Márie Geoghegan-Quinn as a “truly single market for ideas in Europe,” and NSF Director Subra Suresh’s Global Research Council, comprised of science leaders from 50 nations—represent steps in the right direction, Leshner said.
Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, minister of science and technology for the Republic of South Africa, also called for broader, more diverse research alliances. “I’m always amazed that we talk about global partnerships, but when we talk about who makes up the globe, Africa disappears,” she said, adding that Africa will be home to one billion people within the next ten years. “How is it possible that such a significant portion of the world’s population continues to be ignored?”
Since apartheid, the South African government has worked to move science and technology forward, she said. In particular, the country has been establishing partnerships to support an array of scientific initiatives in areas ranging from health science and agriculture, to water research and astronomy. South Africa also is part of a powerful economic-development bloc known as the BRICS partnership (representing Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). Moreover, various South African science programs have been established in collaboration with the European Commission. A major climate research center was launched, for example, with support from the Commission and the German government.
Another speaker at the session, Dominique Ristori, director general of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, said: “Global challenges can only be tackled at the global level…international cooperation in science has become imperative.” He described JRC partnerships involving South Africa, South America, Turkey, the United States, and other countries. “I’m very pleased by discussions between JRC and South Africa in order to monitor climate variables,” he said. In addition, Ristori noted that the Commission’s Marie Curie fellowships are open to researchers all over the world. He further described an agreement between the JRC and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on training and personnel exchange, and a research effort with the U.S. Department of Energy that would advance decentralized electricity strategies in support of electric cars.
Sir Peter Gluckman, chief science adviser to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, said small, advanced nations make up 2% of the world’s population, yet they generate the same amount of economic output as China and thus should be included in global science forums. “Unequal funding leads to unequal potential contributions,” he said. Gluckman listed several promising signs of more broadly inclusive research partnerships, including an epigenetic research consortium that includes small, advanced nations, and the Square Kilometer Array, a southern-hemisphere radio telescope now under development in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
Tiffany Montero represented EurekAlert!, the AAAS science-news service for reporters, in an exhibit booth at Euroscience Open Forum in Dublin.
The “Science without Borders” Euroscience session was organized by John Wood, secretary general of The Association of Commonwealth Universities.
In a separate session attended by hundreds of Euroscience delegates, Leshner joined nuclear consultant Roland Schenkel, former director general of the JRC, as well as Anne Glover, chief scientific adviser to European Commission President José Barroso, and others for a conversation entitled, “Exploding myths on nuclear reactor security, harm reduction, and genetically modified organisms.” Panelists discussed what science tells us about climate change and nicotine addiction, for example, versus public misperceptions. “Often people understand science, they just don’t want to accept what it is telling us,” Leshner said after the session. “That creates tension within society that can hinder scientific progress.”
Leshner also participated in a “Porridge with the Prof” event, an opportunity for early-career scientists and engineers to dine with Euroscience speakers.
Another AAAS staff member, Ginger Pinholster, director of public programs, joined a panel discussion on public engagement with science. Research institutions should find ways to reward scientists for their communication and public outreach efforts as well as their research and publications, speakers said in that session, organized by Andrea De Bortoli, scientific secretary for the Inter-university Centre Agorà Scienza, in collaboration with Enrico Predazzi, professor of theoretical physics. AAAS and its online science-news service, EurekAlert!, participated in the 2012 meeting’s exhibition hall.
Also in attendance, AAAS Chief International Officer Vaughan Turekian said the biannual Euroscience meeting, launched in 2004, provides an important forum for advancing international research and stimulating productive dialogue about shared scientific goals. “It’s wonderful to see the growth of Euroscience, and I’m pleased that AAAS has consistently supported this pan-European effort to bring stakeholders together in advancing the big issues in science and technology,” he said.
Euroscience 2012 was attended by more than 4,000 delegates from 74 countries, The Irish Times reported. The next Euroscience event will take place in Copenhagen in 2014.
20 July 2012