From ScienceWriters: WCSJ2017 coming to San Francisco

ScienceWriters Summer 2015 cover

By Lynne Friedmann

It’s official! The World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) has announced that the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), in partnership with the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW), will host the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists, in San Francisco, in fall 2017, marking the first time WCSJ will take place in the United States.

NASW/CASW will organize the 2017 conference, on the theme of Bridging Science and Societies, in cooperation with UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley. It is expected to attract upwards of 1,200 attendees.

The announcement was made on June 11 at the 9th WCSJ, in Seoul, South Korea. Also competing for WCSJ2017 was the Danish Science Journalists’ Association with a strong proposal for the city of Copenhagen. Formal presentations were made by both groups to the delegates attending the Seoul meeting. We in the American delegation stopped short of calling foul when the Danes distributed tins of butter cookies.

Ron Winslow and Cris Russell made a compelling case for the U.S., citing NASW/CASW’s record of success in organizing ScienceWriters annual meetings, the dynamic New Horizons in Science briefings model, and presenting a rich program with a focus on Latin America.

Tinsley Davis and Ros Reid joined Ron and Cris on stage for the audience Q&A. Lending support in the auditorium, decked out in psychedelic bandanas and Hello Kitty/San Francisco lapel buttons, were Beryl Benderly, Deborah Blum, Pete Farley, Lynne Friedmann, Laura Helmuth, Bill Kearney, Robert Sanders, Nancy Shute, and Bill Skane. Rooting from stateside were proposal committee members Robert Irion, Betsy Mason, Charlie Petit, and Sarah Yang.

After days of waiting as the WFSJ board deliberated came the closing ceremony, officiated by WFSJ President Chul-joong Kim.

“And the winner is…” Long pause, the tension builds, then Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair)” fills the auditorium, and the audience roars its approval.

Groundwork for the successful NASW/CASW bid began in October 2014 when members of the WCSJ2017 proposal committee met during the ScienceWriters2014 meeting.

“Until now, NASW has enabled just a few members to travel abroad every two years to attend the world conference,” Ron Winslow observed when embarking on the effort. “Hosting it would provide an opportunity for hundreds of NASW members to connect to, teach, and learn from their fellow science writers from around the world.”

In the succeeding weeks and months, a steady stream of online assignments and reports, conference calls, and in-person planning meetings followed. Marathon writing and editing sessions culminated in a 46-page proposal, delivered in late April to WFSJ headquarters in Montréal.

The bid lays out the goals of the conference theme, university partnerships, meeting and social venues, student enrichment activities, professional development and science program elements, fundraising, logistics, community involvement, marketing, and myriad ways to ensure international participation.

Included in the proposal are letters of support from the National Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Institute of Physics, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Kavli Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, UCSF, UC Berkeley, California Academy of Sciences, the Mayor of the City of San Francisco, Red Argentina de Periodismo Científico (Scientific Journalism Network Argentina), and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico).

NASW members are encouraged to review the NASW/CASW proposal and to answer the call for volunteers once project timelines and program committees are announced.

Lynne Friedmann is editor of ScienceWriters and a member of the WCSJ2017 proposal group.

(NASW members can read the rest of the Summer 2015 ScienceWriters by logging into the members area.) Free sample issue. How to join NASW.

Should be great.