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Democracy in U.S.
Science and Technology Policy

The Feb. 27, 1998 issue of Science magazine (the flagship publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) includes an editorial by Richard Sclove, the Loka Institute's executive director, calling for broader societal representation in science policymaking.

The fact that Science magazine would publish such an essay is one indication that a post-Cold War thaw is finally underway in U.S. science and technology institutions. You can help accelerate that thaw, and press for more social responsiveness in U.S. science and technology policies, by communicating your views to the Clinton Administration and to Congress. Please send a short note supporting Loka's editorial, and adding your own views or recommendations, to one or all of the following:

1. Rep. Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has asked the House Science Committee to propose a post-Cold War U.S. science policy. Visit the web page for this process, and leave a comment there. Committee staff tell us that your comment will have more impact if it is polite, substantive, specific, and succinct (ideally no more than one page long; two pages maximum). Staff will ask you for follow-up information if they are interested.

2. President Clinton has just announced proposed changes in his top science policy advisors and administrators. E-mail your comments on U.S. science policy to outgoing Presidential Science Advisor, Dr. John Gibbons; to newly nominated Presidential Science Advisor, Dr. Neal Lane; and to the newly nominated director of the U.S. National Science Foundation, Dr. Rita Colwell. If you are writing before March 13, 1998, you might mention your concern that Vice President Gore (and possibly President Clinton) is scheduled to participate in a March 13th "National Summit" on Innovation, organized at MIT by the Council on Competitivenss (COC); the attendees of this event--which is closed to the public, but open to the COC's corporate and university executives--will "vote" their preferences on U.S. R&D policy. (For info about the COC, go to http://nii.nist.gov/coc/coc.html on the Web.)

3. If you want to discuss the democratization of U.S. science and technology policy with others, subscribe to FASTnet (the listserv of the Federation of Activists on Science & Technology Network), and post your comments there.

4. From 19 Dec. 1997-12 Feb. 1998 the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which publishes Science magazine, organized an online forum--the AAAS Conversation on Science and Society. The AAAS forum is not currently accepting new posts, but you can read the archives (on the Web at http://www.sciencemag.org/feature/data/aaasforum.shl), and keep tabs on the AAAS Web pages http://www.aaas.org for future forums promised for later in 1998.

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