Year of Science 2009

Year of Science 2009

The Year of Science 2009, is a nationwide effort to engage the American Public in activities that will stimulate their interest in and appreciation of the process of science. It is being organized by the non-profit volunteer organization Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) [] with support from the American Institute of Biological Sciences, Geological Society of America, National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation.

The Year of Science 2009 project began taking form as a collaborative project among scientific organizations when leaders at the National Academies2 explored ways to improve public understanding about the nature and processes of science to counter efforts by groups that attempt to advance their interests by misrepresenting the nature of science and the current state of scientific knowledge. As a result, a “Year of Understanding the Nature and Processes of Science” was envisaged, with a theme of, “How do we know what we know about some of the major scientific findings that have influenced human health, well-being, and our understanding of the universe?” This approach can serve as a powerful organizing basis for the participation of many professional societies and other organizations in a collaborative, multidisciplinary effort. The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), consisting of almost 200 independent scientific societies and organizations, is working with NAS staff, the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (, and the National Science Teachers Association ( to make the year 2009 a focal point for these efforts.

Year of Science 2009 activities will include:
1. Participating organizations sharing information and collaborating as they develop programs for 2009, such as making the public understanding of science the theme of their 2009 annual meetings, free public lectures and hands-on experiences in science, K-12 classroom activities, roundtable discussions, editorials, radio spots, online resources, dedicated programs at museums and science centers, or starting a local Café Scientifique ( in all, demonstrations of how science plays a vital role in the future of humanity and inspires the best qualities of the human spirit.
2. Creation of a Year of Science 2009 website by the project’s organizers to coordinate the listing of 2009 activities for use by participating organizations as well as by teachers, media, potential funders, and the general public. The website will include suggested activities and templates, a searchable database of events, an interactive map of events, a blog, a press room, and links to content in the Understanding Science website ( that is being developed at the University of California, Berkeley by members of the COPUS project for launch later in 2007.
3. Opportunities to mark 2009 as the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, founder of the National Academy of Sciences, the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, and the 400th anniversary of the publication of Johannes Kepler’s first two Laws of Planetary Motion. Lincoln and Darwin are linked not only by their birthday on 12 February 1809 but by their deeds. More than any other act in U.S. history, Lincoln’s founding of the NAS brings to mind the vital role that science plays in public policy. And more than any other part of modern science, Darwin’s insight into the nature of evolution reminds us of the challenge posed by those who attempt to confuse the public by substituting non-science for science.
4. Collaborations with communications experts on framing scientific communications most effectively for general public understanding as well as for particular public constituencies.
5. Summary reports, other deliverables, and follow-up plans after the end of 2009; opportunities to continue collaborating on public understanding of science projects via the COPUS network.

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