Association Tackles Science Role in Society

WASHINGTON—A new association to address the scientific and technical issues affecting society will be formed next month. The National Association for Science, Technology and Society will hold its first meeting during the Third National STS Conference on Technological Literacy February 5-7 in Arlington, Va. More than 1,000 scientists, educators and others are expected to gather to hear such speakers as William Baker, former chairman of Bell Labs; Rep. Robert Roe (1)- N.J.), chairman of

Jan 25, 1988
The Scientist Staff

WASHINGTON—A new association to address the scientific and technical issues affecting society will be formed next month.

The National Association for Science, Technology and Society will hold its first meeting during the Third National STS Conference on Technological Literacy February 5-7 in Arlington, Va. More than 1,000 scientists, educators and others are expected to gather to hear such speakers as William Baker, former chairman of Bell Labs; Rep. Robert Roe (1)- N.J.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology; Faye Wattleton, president of Planned Parenthood; Jerry Brown, former governor of California; Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends; and Jacques Ellul, author and social commentator.

“Our goal is to create an identity within the scientific community that makes it perfectly respectable to be an STS professional,” explained Rustum Roy, director of the STS program at Pennsylvania State University, conference chair and a prime mover behind the new association. “The purpose is to make scientific and technical information available to the general population.”

The organization has received a three-year, $250,000 grant from the Carnegie Corp., after which it is expected to become self-sufficient.. Program officer Mary Kiely, currently a visiting scholar at Stanford University, said that Carnegie was attracted to NASTS because of its expected mixture of scientists, teachers, lay persons, journalists and others interested in science policy.

“It’s important to have a group that can analyze key scientific issues as they arise and convey the results to the public,” said F. James Rutherford, chief education officer at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, who has helped to organize the annual literacy conferences. “And it’s just as important to make educators aware of the connection between the science itself and its impact on society”

The organizers or the new association acknowledge that their task is formidable. “A slogan like, ‘Everybody needs to understand the connection between science and society,’ is too broad to be useful,” said Rutherford. “What we are trying to say is that progress in science depends on public support, and that an investment in science will affect and improve our lives. It's not simply that A leads to B.”

Membership in NASTS is a year, Roy said, and the dues include a newsletter and a discount subscription to various journals in the field. Roy said that beginning next year the literacy conference, now funded by Carnegie and the National Science Foundation, will probably become the association’s annual meeting.

For more information, write NASTS, 128 Willard
Building, Pennsylvania State University,
University Park, PA
16802


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(The Scientist, Vol:2, #2, p.4, January 25, 1988)
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