More alliances among chemical societies and improving science literacy were two of several topics at the head of the agenda of the C6 group meeting earlier this summer in Frankfurt. The meeting was the latest in a collaboration of six major chemical societies--hence the name--composed of the American Chemical Society, the Chemical Society of Japan (CSJ), the French Chemical Society (SFC), the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society (KNCV), the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), and the German Chemical Society (GDCh).
The idea of an international gathering of societies was first proposed in 1998 by Mary L. Good, who was chair of the Committee on International Activities at the time. Good wanted to establish closer relations with international chemical societies; this resulted in representatives from ACS attending the Federation of European Chemical Societies meeting.
After this experience, RSC suggested that a smaller meeting would be more beneficial. To that end, the organization hosted a meeting of four chemical societies--ACS, GDCh, CSJ, and RSC--in Ascot, England, in 1999.
ACS hosted the next meeting of the group in Washington, D.C., in November 2000. The number of countries represented at this gathering grew to six with the inclusion of SFC and KNCV. One result of this meeting was a staff collaboration on green chemistry among ACS, RSC, and GDCh.
This year's meeting was a more formalized event with an expanded agenda intended to result in take-home actions for the attending societies. "I hope that the things that come out of C6 result in action," says Nina I. McClelland, chair of the ACS Board of Directors. She represented ACS along with ACS President Eli M. Pearce; David A. Daniel, chief operating officer of society programs; and David L. Schutt, director for institutional development.
Following two days of discussions, representatives from the six chemical societies concluded the following:
- Membership alliances should be examined to better serve chemists throughout the world, with special consideration given to setting up a network of bilateral agreements.
- Public appreciation of the chemical sciences must be improved.
- Science education (K12) improvement must be made a high priority by all learned societies.
- Evaluation and/or accreditation of university curricula are important tools to improve teaching quality, the international compatibility of education, and the mobility of students throughout the world.
- Efforts must be made to reduce the widening gap in science education and research between highly industrial countries and economically disadvantaged countries must be made.
- International cooperation in scientific projects can be improved with help from the major chemical societies.
- Electronic publishing is an important issue, and quality control by each society is crucial.
- Standardization is important as a basis for international trade and cooperation.
"The meeting was excellent," McClelland states enthusiastically. "The hosts were superb, and the participation and the organization were well done," she adds.
The next meeting of C6 is tentatively scheduled to be held in Japan in 2004.--SUSAN MORRISSEY
The ACS Executive Director's Blue Ribbon Panel on Minority Affairs met in Marina Del Rey, Calif., on June 21. The theme of this meeting was "Strengthening and Sustaining Our Efforts in the 21st Century." It was the third meeting in a series with this theme.
Convened in 1993 by ACS Executive Director John K Crum, the blue-ribbon panel has met 17 times to discuss, refine, and focus the society's efforts to increase the participation of members of minority populations in the chemical sciences.
Flint H. Lewis, ACS secretary, facilitated the meeting and advised the panel of ACS President Eli M. Pearce's diversity-related events and initiatives that are being highlighted during his presidential term. He also reminded the panel of the board-appointed task force on minorities in academe and its charge to address the problems facing the chemical academic community with regard to the paucity of underrepresented minority faculty.
Saundra Y. McGuire of Louisiana State University and chair of the ACS Committee on Minority Affairs (CMA) reported on both the committee's activities at the Orlando ACS national meeting and plans for the upcoming Boston meeting. McGuire noted that the two-year college symposium at the Orlando meeting, which was organized by the committee as a Presidential Event, was the result of a specific recommendation from the blue-ribbon panel.
Nancy B. Jackson, of Sandia National Laboratories and past-chair of CMA, reported on a recommendation from CMA to the board of directors to fund initiatives to increase the participation of American Indians in the chemical sciences. Jackson noted that these recommendations grew out of visits made by ACS Immediate Past-President Attila E. Pavlath and Jackson to several tribal colleges in Montana. The board is expected to act on these recommendations by the end of the year.
ACS Director-at-Large Stanley C. Israel led a discussion on the work of the Board Task Force on Minorities & Academe. He noted a commentary that appeared in the May 11 issue of C&EN asking for input from ACS members. He also sought advice from the panel.
Staff reported on the minority affairs program in the Department of Diversity Programs. Of particular interest was the continued success of the Scholars Program. Staff noted that the society has awarded scholarship support to more than 1,100 underrepresented minority students since the program's inception in 1995; more than 420 students have graduated. It was also reported that the program has received more than $1.6 million from donor support. Its most recent $100,000 donor is Procter & Gamble. Activities are continuing in support of minority members, and collaborations remain strong with minority advocacy organizations.
The minority advocacy organizations represented at the meeting each reported on their activities and plans for the immediate future. Everett Chavez, executive director of the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES), reported the election of a new board chair and plans for the society's upcoming meeting in Tulsa in early November.
Ella Davis, president of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists & Chemical Engineers, presented the objectives in NOBCChE's five-year plan and areas that she is specifically interested in pursuing. Some of these included increasing the visibility of NOBCChE, strengthening the precollege programs, increasing local and regional participation of NOBCChE members, and collaborating with other organizations such as the Society for Advancement of Chicanos & Native Americans in Science and AISES.
Several recommendations arose from this meeting ranging from ways to explore dual membership in the various minority advocacy organizations and ACS, to finding ways for ACS and other organizations to recruit and work with new minority faculty. The panel expects to meet again in the fall to further assist ACS on these issues.--LINDA RABER