David and colleagues –
As your foundation president, I believe It is also time ASC seriously considered adopting a professional code of ethics or charter of practice, like other professions. We need this not only for our own professional standards, but also to protect science communicators from exploitation or misuse by science organisations seeking to employ them for institutional propaganda purposes.
I invite all members to consider whether we should adopt a code similar to the following, (which I proposed several years ago, but which the then ASC executive took no action on). I’m happy to explain the thinking behind each element, as members may require:
CHARTER FOR SCIENCE COMMUNICATION IN AUSTRALIA
1. Scientific knowledge is the common heritage of all people.
2. The sharing, or communication, of scientific knowledge is as important as its discovery.
3. The future of Australia depends on the equitable sharing and rapid adoption of sound scientific knowledge.
4. Scientific knowledge should be communicated as truthfully, ethically, fairly and widely as practical for the benefit of Australia.
5. The future of Australian science depends on its ability to shape itself to the needs, values and standards of Australians.
6. The interests of the Australian people are higher than those of any individual, scientific institution, funding agency, commercial entity or government body.
Code of practice
Science communicators hold the future in our hands. We help to move the new knowledge generated by scientists to the people who need and will use it. We spread awareness of new insights into Australia, humanity and the world we live in. We educate, inform, stimulate, challenge, inspire and warn. We are agents of change, transmitters of new technologies, heralds of ideas for a sustainable and prosperous society. We also help scientists to understand the needs and wishes of our society, so their science may serve it better.
We are professional communicators, journalists, writers and authors, teachers, lecturers, scientists and technologists, engineers, social scientists . We value scientific knowledge for itself and for the benefits it can bring society, and we recognise the potential harm it can cause if misapplied.
As science communicators we commit ourselves to:
Julian Cribb FTSE
Julian Cribb & Associates
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THE ASC IN TRANSITION
Up till now the ASC has been a typical volunteer organisation, reliant on the unpaid and spare-time efforts of our members and officers, though modest honoraria have been paid to some of the latter. This approach has allowed us to make a significant impact, but with the rising profile of science communication, as represented inter alia by the Inspiring Australia initiative, your National Council believes it is time to move on and adopt a more professional style of management and operation.
We have already appointed Kali Madden as our paid, though still part time, Executive Officer. In that capacity she is responsible for the efficient running of our internal operations, such as membership management. The next proposed step is the appointment in the next few months of a General Manager to undertake similar efficient management with regards to our external relations, including our significant involvement with Inspiring Australia, linkages with like-minded organisations, the staging of National Conferences and so on. We believe that such an appointment will further raise our profile, enhance our impact on science communication in Australia and increase our membership.
The changing role of the ASC President
The new appointment will have a significant impact of the role of the ASC President, much as the work of the Executive Officer eases the burden on the Treasurer. It is intended that the General Manager will take over many of the roles currently filled by the President. The latter would become more like the Chairman of the Board, providing leadership and oversighting the development of policy, with the implementation of policy and the development of new programs resting with the General Manager. As a result the position of President will be much less time-consuming than it has been, and should be more attractive to a wider range of members, including some in senior positions in the sci-com community.
Under our constitution, the President is supported by one or two Vice-Presidents, who can be assigned specific roles. These officers are appointed by the National Council from among its number, or (as now) co-opted from the wider membership. This provides a further opportunity to ease the workload on the President.
The President is elected at our Annual General Meeting, which this year will be Brisbane on 27 November. If you have an interest in taking up the Presidency (or any other role) and would like to discuss the matter further, contact our current (and soon to retire) President Jesse Shore (email@example.com) or our Treasurer David Ellyard