31st Annual Meeting of the DPS, October 1999
Session 19. Sagan Prize Presentation and Lecture
Invited Plenary Session, Open to the Public, Monday, October 11, 1999, 7:00-8:00pm, Padova

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[19.01] Bringing Planetary Science to the Public

C. R. Chapman (Southwest Research Inst., Boulder CO)

Since I am not fluent in Italian, I won't presume to give a "public" science lecture in Padua (that will happen in the year 2000 before an English-speaking audience). But I will discuss the gap between the arcane practice of planetary research and the yearnings of a poorly educated public to participate in planetary exploration. Education and public outreach (E&PO) is a vital enterprise for our profession to be engaged in. But that does not mean that every researcher needs to become proficient at public communication. Our interdisciplinary field advances because of our diverse talents and we should do what we are good at. It is good that entities like the DPS and NASA are encouraging scientists to engage in E&PO, yet I fear that this endeavor is already, in its infancy, becoming bureaucratized. An E&PO cottage industry is developing, complete with its own jargon and checklists. The essential thing is for us all to realize that science is a human activity, supported by the public as part of our civilization's culture. As we do our science, we should do it with consciousness of our public role and use whatever creative talents we have to synthesize our specialized results for the broader scientific community, to articulate them to science communicators (educators, journalists, writers), and to share them directly with the public.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: cchapman@boulder.swri.edu

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