WCSJ 2017 promises a diverse, provocative conference

By William G. Schulz

Next year’s World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ), to be held Oct. 26 to 30, 2017, in San Francisco, was previewed at a special luncheon briefing at NASW’s 2016 annual meeting, held Oct. 28 to Nov. 1., in San Antonio.

It will be the first WCSJ conference to be held in the U.S. San Francisco was chosen in part because of the region’s rich concentration of science and technology innovation in both the public and private sector.

With a theme of “Bridging Science and Societies” the conference aims to build global communications, capacity and connections in science journalism. Organizers says the theme “reflects the vital role of science communication and the fact that journalists interpret science in context for diverse societies.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Deborah Blum, who is director of the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT and WCSJ 2017 program chair, promised the luncheon crowd in San Antonio a diverse world conference with a global perspective on problems like climate change, too.

NASW’s 2017 annual meeting will be part of the conference.

Some 300 program submissions including at least 20 science sessions have been made for the conference, Blum said. Each conference develops its own “flavor,” she added, noting that she hopes science writers will find themselves being exposed to new ideas and values.

Blum said the program will be powered by leading science writers in Latin America, a program emphasis, as well as Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. The program committee is putting in place a series of parallel sessions, workshops, and outreach activities that will explore science in regional and global contexts, she said.

The plan, Blum said, is to draw on WCSJ2017’s location in the Bay Area, home to leading research universities and to some of the most influential technology companies in the world.

Organizers of WCSJ 2017, co-chaired by Ron Winslow of the Wall Street Journal and Cristine Russell of the Harvard Kennedy School, also promise provocative sessions — including such topics as whether male journalists in some countries dominate the science writing profession.

The conference is being organized through a collaborative effort of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ), NASW and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW), in conjunction with hosts the University of California, San Francisco, and UC Berkeley. Most of the conference will be held at San Francisco’s Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown, but there will also be university and laboratory tours included in the program.

The organizers note that there are many sponsorship opportunities for the meeting from both institutions and individuals. Complete information is available on WCSJ’s 2017 sponsorship page or potential supporters can contact CASW.