Archive for August, 2010

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  • August 25th, 2010

Review of the first STP Crossroads Symposium

On May 1, 2010, almost 70 members of various groups, societies, and organizations in the Cambridge area who work in science, technology and policy came together to, for the first time, meet one another.  This inaugural event, known as the Science Technology & Policy Crossroads, offered an unprecedented opportunity to these groups to encounter, engage with, and learn about one another; in so doing, they took the first steps toward forming what has the potential to become an extraordinarily important and influential community.

In this event, the attendees first observed and participated in an engaging panel discussion on the nature, variety, and intricacy of the intersection of science, technology and policy.  Our panelists included New York Times best-selling author and accomplished science journalist Chris Mooney, the Union of Concerned Scientists? Climate and Energy Program Outreach Coordinator Jean Sideris, and biological engineer and MIT Science Policy Initiative co-founder Gerard Ostheimer.  (A fourth panelist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute coastal researcher Christopher Reddy, was unfortunately but understandably called away to assist with the coastal crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.)  The panel was moderated brilliantly by Professor Sheila Jasanoff, the Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  After a 45 minute discussion among the panelists regarding their personal relationships with science, technology and policy, the floor was opened to questions, and the audience members probed the panelists for another three-quarters of an hour with questions ranging from practical advice for young citizen scientists to solutions to deep cultural and institutional limitations in the relationship between the science, technology and policy communities.

After the panel and a brief coffee-and-snack break, the attendees and panelists broke into four sub-sessions, each covering a different aspect of the STP intersection.  Topics ranged from the relationship between scientists and the media to the nature and importance of innovation and technology policy.  Though these panels were schedule to last 25-30 minutes, most went well over time as the participants and attendees enthusiastically discussed and debated numerous questions.  The event ended with an hour long open mixer with drinks and food,
offering the attendees and participants an opportunity to meet each other and make connections for the future.

The overwhelming consensus among the members of the STP Crossroads coordinating committee is that the event was a remarkable success.  Everyone participating and attending seem highly enthusiastic, not only about the details and discussions of the forum, but even more about the potential of building a wide and deeply rooted community.  Already many of these groups are communicating and cooperating to a degree that was simply not present before.  It was always our hope that this event would be the first of many; and the response from those who attended the event as to whether these meetings should continue has been a resounding ?YES!?  As such, those of us who put together this event are already eagerly looking ahead to the next event, which may occur as soon as this fall.  Such an event, should it happen, would offer a low-key opportunity near the beginning of the academic calendar for all these varied and fascinating groups to become reacquainted, open lines of communication for the year to come, and lay the groundwork for a larger, more public event in the
late winter or early spring.

A gallery with further pictures from the event can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stpcrossroads/sets/72157624909434563/

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