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Vol. 28 No. 4
July-August 2006

From the Editor

image of Fabienne Meyers“Chemists’ Understanding of the Public” — is that now? I wondered. Surely it is a typo, and should read "Public Understanding of Chemistry." The later topics is what the scientific community is concerned with these days.

So, I read the title again (see p.14) and continued on reading with some suspicion. It turns out that the point of the article is to compel chemists to identify and understand their publics rather than the other way around. This simple idea is one of the key recommendations of a project that looked at how IUPAC could leverage its global perspective to enhance public appreciation of chemistry. For this project, headed by the Committee on Chemistry Education, Peter Mahaffy and his tasks group reviewed the strengths and limitations that IUPAC faces if it wants to communicate chemistry to the public. A conclusion of their report is that IUPAC should focus on its primary publics — and educators closely associated with IUPAC — help them identify, understand, and work with their own audiences.

The overarching goal for the project is, as Mahaffy puts it, "to provide a framework that will bring the same level of intellectual rigor to IUPAC's science communication activities as to IUPAC's scientific activities." I encourage everyone to read this seminal
report and think about how to contribute to the initiative.

Now, CCE is hardly alone in thinking about IUPAC's publics. As David Evans highlights in his article (p.12), the Committee on Chemistry and Industry (COCI) concentrates on the industrial perspective. Similarly, each discipline/division of IUPAC shall find its niche through its representation within CCE.

If IUPAC's challenge is to identify the right public, the difficulties and rewards of reaching a very defined audience seem quite clear in the case of Science Across the World. Read on page 8 how the SAW program provides educators with powerful tools to intrigue young minds and give students across the world the opportunity to meet in a virtual classroom.

While the forementioned articles demonstrate the importnace of reaching out to science educators, this issue has a number of other articles and announcements sure to be of interest to educators: a project on distance learning, a new book on fundamental toxicology, and reports from conferences focused on science education.

Fabienne Meyers
fabienne@iupac.org
www.iupac.org/publications/ci


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