CAMBRIDGE, MA (October 10, 2015) — The 10th World Conference of Science Journalists, expected to bring more than 1,200 journalists from around the world to San Francisco, has been scheduled for October 26–30, 2017, two U.S. lead organizations announced today.
The National Association of Science Writers and Council for the Advancement of Science Writing bid together to host the biennial conference of the World Federation of Science Journalists in the United States for the first time. They will work with partners across the Bay Area and the U.S. and around the globe to showcase science and develop a five-day program.
Two preeminent research universities in the Bay Area, the University of California San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley, will serve as host institutions, supporting the conference and opening their campuses to enrich the WCSJ program with science tours and presentations. In addition to visiting the host institution campuses and other research facilities in the area, WCSJ2017 will coordinate with the Bay Area Science Festival to engage science journalists in public science events and outreach around the Bay Area. San Francisco’s Marriott Marquis has been chosen as the main conference venue.
NASW and CASW officially kicked off organizing and fundraising efforts today at their annual awards gala, held in Cambridge as part of ScienceWriters2015, the annual conference produced by the two organizations and this year attended by 800 science writers. WCSJ2017 will be held in place of the annual U.S. meeting, bringing U.S. writers together with members of some 50 other science journalism organizations in the developed and developing world.
Co-chairing the Organizing Committee for WCSJ2017 will be two senior leaders of the U.S. science journalism community: Ron Winslow, deputy editor for health and science and senior medical and health care writer for the Wall Street Journal, and Cristine Russell, senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Both are past presidents of NASW, and Russell is immediate past president of CASW.
“We're thrilled to invite science writers from around the world to participate in our terrific professional workshops and science programs,” Winslow said. “It’s a great opportunity for NASW members, too. The chance to connect with and learn from science-writing colleagues from other countries and cultures can be a life-changing experience.”
Russell added: “We’re proud to be hosting the conference in the U.S. for the first time, with San Francisco likely to attract the largest global gathering of science writers to date. It’s an opportunity to improve science writing and learn about cutting-edge science in an area known for research, innovation and enterprise. California is also facing environmental challenges, such severe drought and water shortages, that mirror problems across the world.”
Winslow said the conference theme, “Bridging Science and Societies,” was chosen to reflect “the vital role science journalists play in connecting audiences to the science that affects their lives” as well as the issues that arise along the interface between the global scientific enterprise and the world’s diversity of cultures. An international Program Committee to build activities around the theme will be chaired by Pulitzer-winning author Deborah Blum, director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and vice president of CASW.
“We’re looking forward to working with science journalists both in the U.S. and around the world,” Blum said, “to develop a global program, one that does justice to the ever-changing, fascinating and important role of communication in the way we think about science and society.”
A special focus of the 2017 conference will be programming and financial support to encourage participation and training for Latin American science journalists. The World Federation has focused many of its efforts on capacity-building in developing countries. California’s proximity to Latin America, Winslow said, “will allow us to strengthen existing and emerging networks with Latin American science journalists.”
The organizers have already developed partnerships with the National Academy of Sciences, California Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science and other scientific societies in support of the conference, which will combine professional developing and networking with presentations on leading-edge science patterned after CASW’s 53-year-old New Horizons in Science briefings. “By gathering so many science journalists from around the world, including from many developing nations,” National Academy President Ralph J. Cicerone noted in supporting the U.S. bid, “the WCSJ reflects the increasingly global nature of the research enterprise.”
Russell will head a committee reaching out to foundations and to Bay Area companies and organizations to recruit additional sponsors and partners for the event over the coming year. The organizers hope to create opportunities for international journalists to experience the vibrant research and development environment around the Bay, explore the interplay of innovation and technology that drives Northern California, and enjoy science excursions that expose them to the region’s natural wonders and environmental challenges.
UCSF and Berkeley Chancellors Nicholas Dirks and Sam Hawgood said they looked forward to welcoming science journalists to “one of the world’s great cities... an area known for its international flair and for universities with a true global outlook.”
THE CONFERENCE PARTNERS
CASW: Founded in 1959, the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (http://casw.org) is a panel of distinguished journalists, science communication specialists and scientists committed to improving the quality and quantity of science news reaching the public. CASW will have the lead role in fundraising to support travel for developing-country journalists, hospitality and conference program expenses.
NASW: Founded in 1934, the National Association of Science Writers (http://nasw.org) is an association of more 2,000 members chartered to “foster the dissemination of accurate information through all media normally devoted to informing the public.” NASW’s programs improve the craft of science writing, fight for the free flow of science news, and honor excellence in science writing. http
WFSJ: The Montréal-based World Federation of Science Journalists (http://wfsj.org) connects science journalists worldwide through conferences, competitions, and networking and encourages strong, critical coverage of issues in science and technology, environment, health and emdicine, agriculture and related fields. Current programs help journalists worldwide learn about infectious diseases including Ebola and the hepatitis C virus. WFSJ offers an online science journalism course in 10 languages.
UCSF and UCB: Founded in 1873 and dedicated to advancing health worldwide, UC San Francisco (http://ucsf.edu) is the leading university in the U.S. exclusively focused on health. Founded five years earlier, UC Berkeley (http://berkeley.edu) is the flagship of the University of California system and places #3 overall among the world’s universities in the latest US News & World Report rankings. Between them the two universities’ faculties have earned 40 Nobel Prizes.
Contact: Tinsley Davis, NASW Rosalind Reid, CASW