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Committee on Chemistry Education

Number: 2004-047-1-050

Title: Public understanding of science: identifying IUPAC's niche

Task Group
: Peter Mahaffy

Members: Anthony D. Ashmore, Bob Bucat, and Choon Do

Completion Date: 2008 - project completed

To propose an appropriate niche for IUPAC and the Committee on Chemistry Education (CCE) in promoting public understanding of science.

Enhancing the public understanding of science in general and of chemistry in particular is a key element of IUPAC's strategy. There are also a large number of other organizations active in the field, so determining the particular role IUPAC can and should play requires careful analysis. The CCE subcommittee on the Public Understanding of Science Chemistry is charged with providing public understanding through its work to improve chemistry education. The subcommittee wishes to promote the development of an overall IUPAC strategy and to play its own role within that strategy.

The project will have the following stages:

(1) A workshop for Task Group Members to prepare a preliminary report, with recommendations, on effective public understanding of science initiatives based upon a review of the literature. The workshop will be held over three days in Edmonton in Canada May 2005.
Additional outcomes will be a plan for the wider workshop in stage 2 and advice to the organizers of the 19th ICCE (see stage 3).

(2) A special half day workshop within the Beijing IUPAC General Assembly in August 2005 to consider the report from (1) above and to produce a draft report to the IUPAC Bureau on the role for IUPAC in promoting public understanding of science. Participants would be the Task Group, CCE - including the Associate Members of IUPAC CCE representing the scientific divisions of IUPAC, COCI, Chemrawn and others that the IUPAC Executive Committee may nominate. The report will identify what further work, if any, needs to be undertaken to develop an IUPAC whole consensus on the role and strategy of IUPAC in public understanding of science.
It is expected that there would be consultation within IUPAC on the draft report with feedback to the Task Group.

(3) A symposium within, and other contributions to, the 19th ICCE on "Chemistry and Chemical Education for Humanity" in Korea in August 2006. The workshops in (1) & (2) will inform the development of the program which will stimulate further advice on IUPAC's role and strategy.

(4) Task Group members will attend the 19th ICCE and produce its final report based upon the feedback from consultations. The report will be to the IUPAC Bureau enabling it to determine its role and strategy on public understanding of science and to engage with other scientific unions, ICSU and other stakeholders to agree on overarching strategy and associated activities.

June 2005 - Members of the task group have prepared a report after meeting for three days in May, 2005 in Edmonton to review IUPAC’s role, survey the literature, and prepare this report.

Sep 2005 - The report was presented in a well-attended joint workshop at the 2005 General Assembly in Beijing, and will be finalized following the 19th International Conference on Chemical Education in Korea, 12-17 Aug 2006, where a special symposium on the Public Understanding of Chemistry will take place.

> Review draft report [pdf file -291KB]

May 2006 - A few highlights from the report are presented in a feature titled 'Chemists' Understanding of the Public', published in CI July-Aug 2006, p. 14.

Jan 2008 - Project completed - IUPAC Technical report published in Pure Appl. Chem. 80(1), 161-174, 2008.

Last update: 15 January 2008

<project announcement published in Chem. Int. May-June 2005>


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