How do scientists make a difference in the world?
Where in society is scientific knowledge valuable?
What are some
careers that are concerned with science and its culture?
How are persons
in science-related fields engaged in matters of local, national, and global
Who are some exemplary individuals--leaders in different sectors of society--with whom we might engage in discussion and consider what is possible?
These are some of the questions that inspired the establishment of the Science, Careers & Society Forum in 1998 and have fueled its growth and expansion ever since. This kind of debate honors the Jeffersonian heritage of the University of Virginia and fosters its ideals--where intellectual curiosity and academic excellence combined with social responsibility and a commitment to public service are encouraged and lauded.
This program was begun in the context of Chemistry 281, the third semester of the honors introductory series in chemistry, with the generous support of the Chemistry Department. But it quickly became apparent that the Forum was of broader interest and scope than just chemistry. Since then, it has been opened to the university community, and students and faculty from different departments often participate. In addition to attending the Forum, students have contributed to all aspects of the program, from selecting and inviting speakers to introducing and hosting them. Efforts are also made to coordinate discussions with other programs in the university and community. In fall 2002, for example, the SCS Forum teamed with the Tremaine Forum on the Environment and the Undergraduate Environmental Sciences Seminar in hosting Prof. F. Sherwood Rowland, 1995 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. The Undergraduate Research Network welcomed Prof. Rowland to their weekly discussion. Thanks to the efforts of Steve Macko in Environmental Sciences and Karen Rheuban of the UVA Telemedicine program, high school students in Craig County, Virginia also had the opportunity to hear Rowland's talks via teleconferencing.
Suggestions for future discussions, invited guests, and jointly sponsored events are welcome from individuals and student, faculty and community programs.