President’s Letter, News.ISWA #5

The time January-March was a hectic time. The ISWA Board met numerous times, in an attempt to increase the momentum of the organization. We did catch up on leftovers from the previous Board. We brainstormed and searched and plotted ideas for the future. Now we are trying to form workgroups to work on specific projects: an academic science communication course that anyone can take for credit, a workshop on teaching researchers how to deal with the press, and maybe a science journalism podcast. We also have (dim) hopes for a meeting somewhere this year, though where seems always to ‘not pan out.’

Among the leftovers were clearing up a variety of constitutional conflicts and unclear statements. We bought (for the first time!) plaques for retiring Board members. To move forward, the Board internally ran a Brainstorm Survey, gathering ideas of things ISWA could do. Three pages full of ideas. Then we spent nearly six hours discussing pros and cons and grading them in terms of do-ability and prioritizing them. We had those we thought to do urgently, while the proverbial iron was hot, those to hold off, and those to do when an opportunity arose. All over the next two years, but to start and move now and as rapidly as possible.

The first items we’re trying are, in no particular order, finding places to have meetings, to research and possibly create an academic course (for credit, not just a certificate) on science communication, a workshop on helping scientists work with the press, a podcast, and an increase in our social media presence. For the last, that has increased some—we are on Twitter and our Facebook page has steady postings. For the others, we are just now establishing workgroups to work on the issues.

But the problems are immense. We are a small group, and a small Board scattered over many time zones. Our Board meeting start times range locally from 630AM to 10PM; hard to get all of us all the time. But also it is just a LOT to do…and the Board can not do it on its own. We need members to step up and help out on the problems. And with our small group, that is not happening as much as it should. Yes, you are busy. So are we all. What of it?

Financially we are in the best shape we’ve ever been. We have a better than equilibrium situation, where more members have joined than left. It would be nice to be able to move this inertia-bound organization forward, but turning this ship requires help.

Please help.

Meanwhile, this issue is dedicated to the topic of Science Journalism around the world. Specifically, Iran, Colombia, and Greece. Enjoy.

– Dr. Larry Krumenaker