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A proposal for a Canadian coalition: an alliance for science.

I would like to propose that we actively move toward a national network of local alliances of industry, government and educational systems for improvement in the image of science and careers in science. These alliances could be a tool for communication as well as a tool for action. An alliance could demonstrate, on a national scale, ways of becoming actively involved in our educational systems. The alliance could document what is effective change and what is not. An alliance could provide for a larger audience what current programs already do for a few.

Over the past two years, at the Merck Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research, it has been my pleasure to plan and implement programs which are designed to increase student interest in science and in careers in science. Experience tells me that many other people are also exploring how they can contribute to the common goal of communication a positive image of science and careers in science. All over the country, at informal and formal meetings of both scientific and educational personnel, the threads of conversation seem to weave around this central issue.

While we may agree on the necessity of effectively communicating a positive image of science and the science professions, exactly how we should go about this is often debated. Many do feel that what is required is a need for active involvement in our educational systems, either via curricular or extra-curricular programs.

However, many also say that if the power to change our governmental policies and educational systems exists, it must be found in industry. The logic used is because industry is the end consumer of the educational product, industry must be driven to make known their needs and to actually do something about ensuring that these needs are met.

It is my opinion that we will all benefit most from a more integrated approach. For the long-term benefit of Canada, it is important for each of us to reach out, to create linkages and share ideas about what works and what doesn't. We can all use some help in this process, as realistically, none of us have the necessary resources to effect any real educational changes on our own.

This integrated approach would include a corporate focus or mandate on the need for involvement in educational outreach, the expertise of the educational system to give shape to the ideas, a government which is supportive, and the rich resources of dedicated scientists who can effectively deliver the new programs of educational interface.

In the United States, the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education, supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, is a national organization which networks local and regional alliances. This organization assists many interested institutions and groups in working together to promote the improvement and reform of science, mathematics and technology education. This organization can also help us here in Canada, and Canadian efforts to form local alliances are already underway.

We must effectively communicate our visions and strategies for change. If we are to be agents for change, we must bring industry, government and education into a collective arena. We must work together for improvements in how people view science and careers in science. We must strive toward a national network of local alliances for the benefit of science and science education in Canada.

Those interested in working together to communicate concepts on how to better promote science and careers in science, learning more about the Triangle Coalition, or those interested in responding to the ideas presented in this Viewpoint column, are invited to respond to the author, c/o Merck Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research, P.O. Box 1005, Pointe-Claire - Dorval, Quebec H9R 4P8.

Naomi Yergey is information specialist-vocation counsellor, Merck Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research. She served as guest editor for ACCN's October 1992 theme of Careers.
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Title Annotation:need to form a group in Canada that will promote science and careers inn science
Author:Yergey, Naomi S.
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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