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Loka Alerts


The Loka Institute publishes an occasional series of electronic postings on democratic politics of science and technology. While some of them are time-sensitive, others are of a longer interest. We have posted some of the longer interest postings below.

The Loka Institute also offers several E-mail lists, including FASTnet (the Federation of Activists on Science & Technology Network). Subscription information for all of our list-servs is available to anyone interested and all subscriptions are free of charge.

To contact The Loka Institute:

The Loka Institute
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Telephone: 301-585-9398
E-mail: Loka@Loka.org

Selected Postings from The Loka Institute

Most recent work is on top.

2003

Loka Alert 10:1 (June 17, 2003) HELP MAKE HISTORY: URGE SENATE TO VOTE FOR PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN NANOTECHNOLOGY POLICY:
Dear Friends and Colleagues, If you believe we urgently need more citizen participation in federal  technology policy, this is the time to let your Senators know!

2002

Loka Alert 9:6 (December, 2002) NATIONAL INSECURITY AND DEMOCRACY: Democracy thrives on courage; fascism feeds on fear. In the last  year, fear has deeply infiltrated U.S. domestic and foreign policy.  The national response to the terrorist strikes of last September has  been a scared rush to restrict personal freedom and to expand  government secrecy and government spying on ordinary citizens.  Equally disturbing are the undercurrents of self-censorship in public  life. Many individuals and organizations, including the news media,  routinely monitor their own speech to avoid accusations of being  unpatriotic. (see the full text of the Alert by following the linked title above, including the article: "COMPLEXITY, TRUST, AND TERROR": by Loka's president, Langdon Winner of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he probes the issues  of technology and terrorism.)

Loka Alert 9:5 (September 10, 2002) GANDHI'S LAW At this time of national reflection, we share these words from Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi (1869-1948) has been an inspiration to the Loka Institute, as to so many others. He developed the basic techniques of non-violent social action and led some of its most effective applications ever, first in South Africa and then in India. He also was one of the first to promote critical thinking about Western technologies, and the concept of appropriate technology.

Loka Alert 9:4 (May 5, 2002) CRN CONFERENCE 2002: REGISTRATION, SCHOLARSHIPS, AND PRESENTATIONS The Fifth Annual Community Research Network Conference will be June 
13-16 at Loyola University of Chicago. The theme this year: "Building Healthy Communities: Overcoming the Social, Economic, and Environmental Barriers with Community-Based Research." The conference is co-sponsored by the Loka Institute and the Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) at Loyola University.

Loka Alert 9:2 (February 19, 2002) LOKA'S CRISIS - AND LOKA'S OPPORTUNITY

Dear Friends and Colleagues, There is good news and bad news at the Loka Institute, and we'll start with the bad. Since September, the funding climate for small non-profits like Loka has been harsh. Loka is experiencing a cash-flow problem. As Loka's Board of Trustees, we have decided that the most responsible thing to do is to stop incurring new costs. So we have temporarily suspended most of our office operations and have had to lay off most of our staff - an especially painful decision. Our executive director has also resigned. (click title to see the complete alert.)

 

Loka Alert 9:1 (January 28, 2002) TRUST US, WE'RE EXPERTS: HOW INDUSTRY MANIPULATES SCIENCE AND GAMBLES WITH YOUR FUTURE By Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber. In their thought-provoking book, Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles With Your Future, Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber discuss how the commercialization of the science system has compromised the previously long-held "contract" between science and society. We're using the January 15, 2002 paperback release of the book to introduce Loka Alert readers to their insightful and comprehensive analysis. 

2001

Loka Alert 8:6 (November 1, 2001) E.F. SCHUMACHER: A RETROSPECT AND REFLECTION AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 By Bruce Piasecki. E.F. Schumacher is well-known and respected for being a leading thinker and philosopher on issues of economics, technology and society. His book, Small is Beautiful (1973) was a best seller all over the world, and is often credited with originating many of the ideas associated with sustainable development. In this Loka Alert, Bruce Piasecki, Founder and President of the American Hazard Control Group Inc, a management consulting firm specializing in energy,

Loka Alert 8:5 (August 8, 2001) INITIAL REPORT 2001 Annual Community Research Network Conference "Re-Shaping the Culture of Research: People, Participation, Partnerships and Practical Tools" By Jill Chopyak and Khan Rahi

Loka Alert 8:4 (July 11, 2001) GOD SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER By Larry Wilson

Loka Alert 8:3 (April 20, 2001) PRECAUTION: WHO DECIDES ? WHY DEMOCRATIC METHODS OF DECISION-MAKING ARE  CRITICAL TO IMPLEMENTING THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE By Joel Tickner and Lee Ketelsen 

n January 1998, an international group of scientists, government  officials, environmentalists, lawyers, labor representatives, and  grassroots activists met in Racine, Washington (USA) and developed  the Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle. Over the  past three years, groups all over the U.S. have taken steps to put  the Statement into practice. The following Loka Alert discusses the  need for public participation in implementating the Precautionary  Principle, and provides an example of how this is occurring in the  state of Massachusetts. Coordinated by the Lowell Center for  Sustainable Production, the Clean Water Fund, and the Massachusetts  Breast Cancer Coalition, the Massachusetts Precautionary Principle  Project is a collaboration of various scientists, funders and  grassroots activists working to implement the Precautionary Principle  in the state of Massachusetts. If you have and comments or questions,  contact Joel Tickner <joel_tickner@uml.edu> from the University of  Massachusetts-Lowell's Center for Sustainable Production, or Lee  Ketelsen <bostoncwa@cleanwater.org> from Clean Water Fund. We look forward to hearing from you!

Loka Alert 8:2 (March 16, 2001) U.S. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY: A NEW CENTURY, A NEW FRAMEWORK By Jill Chopyak In a new century with a new White House Administration this Loka Alert renews and reinvigorates Loka's commitment to work for a democratic politics of science and technology. It calls for support from all our constituents to work with us in developing a new science and technology framework one that includes the voices of those most affected by science and technology decisions and developments. Please send your responses, comments, and ideas to Loka@Loka.org . We look forward to hearing from you!

In a new century with a new White House Administration this Loka Alert renews and reinvigorates Loka's commitment to work for a democratic politics of science and technology. It calls for support from all our constituents to work with us in developing a new science and technology framework one that includes the voices of those most affected by science and technology decisions and developments. Please send your responses, comments, and ideas to Loka@Loka.org . We look forward to hearing from you!

Loka Alert 8:1 (February 1, 2001) -  REFERENDA: CAN THIS CRIPPLED CITIZEN VOICE BE CONVERTED INTO AN EDUCATED ROAR?: By Don Straus. In this Loka Alert author Don Straus discusses the future of democracy by examining the referenda as a way of increasing citizen input and participation in democratic processes. Given the recent Presidential election, Straus' discussion is quite timely. The Alert poses several questions in the hopes of bringing about a larger debate on the issue.

2000

Loka Alert 7:5 (25 October 2000) THE TILT OF THE TUBE The Structural Conservative Bias of Television: In this Loka Alert author (and longtime Loka Institute Board member) Jeffrey Scheuer dissects the familiar claim of political conservatives that the U.S. mass media -- television especially -- evince a leftwing bias. To the contrary, argues Scheuer, the structural properties of television offer systematic advantages to the conservative wing of the political spectrum. Scholars and activists alike will want to come to terms with his challenging and original thesis.

Loka Alert 7:4 CHILDREN AND COMPUTERS: A CALL TO ACTION By The Childhood Alliance In this Loka Alert the Alliance for Childhood -- a new partnership of child advocates -- raises concerns about the effects of computers on children. Their position statement - below - calls for a "time-out" in the rush to computerize early childhood and elementary education, and advocates for a broad public dialogue on the real impact of computers on children. Endorsed by 80 individuals in the U.S. and abroad, the statement raises important issues about our social and educational priorities, and implications for future generations.

Loka Alert 7:3 (20 July 2000) DICK SCLOVE DEPARTS/LOKA THRIVES This Loka Alert announces my resignation from the staff and board of the Loka Institute, which I founded 13 years ago. For both Loka and me this represents a kind of graduation -- a time for taking stock and celebration. Loka's board of directors has asked me to mark this event with a brief personal review of Loka's history, which I give below.

Loka Alert 7.2 - THE POLITICS OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED PEOPLE.  In this Loka Alert Richard Hayes offers a superb introduction to the science and politics of human genetic engineering. He concludes with action steps we must take to prevent dangerously irresponsible applications of the emerging human biotechnological know-how.

Loka Alert 7:1 (29 March 2000) - COUNTER THE CYBERNETIC WAL-MART EFFECT: A vigorous debate has emerged in the USA on whether purchases made via the Internet should be exempt from sales tax. The debate encompasses the concerns of businesses, consumers, and public servants -- just about every perspective except that of citizens. In this Loka Alert (adapted from an op-ed in The Christian Science Monitor), Richard Sclove explores the implications of tax-free   e-commerce for democracy and civic life.

1999

Loka Alert 6.7 - THE POLITICS OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS:  THE UNITED STATES VERSUS EUROPE   Why are genetically modified foods ("gene foods") more hotly contested politically in Europe than in the United States?  In this Loka Alert, Phil Bereano and Florian Kraus argue that actually U.S. citizen concern about gene foods is growing, and that U.S. government policies may, as a result, be shifting.

Loka Alert 6.6 - WHERE HAVE ALL THE FEMINIST TECHNOLOGY CRITICS GONE?  In this Loka Alert long-time feminist technology activist and critic Ellen Balka reviews the history of feminist engagement with many kinds of technology. But "where," she asks, "have all the feminist information technology critics gone?  They've been seduced by the potential of the World Wide Web everywhere..."

Loka Alert 6:5 (11 Sept. 1999) - DEMOCRATIC POLITICS OF TECHNOLOGY: THE MISSING HALF: No nation on earth has an effective system for taking into account the profound effects that technologies exert on basic social and political structures, including on democratic values and institutions. The absence of such a capability stunts fulfilment of the democratic promise, thwarting people's opportunities to establish the lives, communities, and societies they wish.

Loka Alert 6.4 - INITIAL REPORT ON LOKA'S 1999 ANNUAL COMMUNITY RESEARCH NETWORK CONFERENCE + NEW LOKA INSTITUTE STAFF Loka Institute staff provide an initial report on the 1999 Annual Community Research Network Conference, which took place June 11-13 in Amherst, Massachusetts (USA). A full conference report will be available this fall.

Loka Alert 6.3 - Defining Public-Interest Research A group of scholars and activists assembled by the nonprofit Science & Environmental Health Network (SEHN), Consortium for Sustainable Agriculture, Research & Education (CSARE) and the Center for Rural Affairs (CRA) proposes a definition for "public-interest research." Their concern is to help concerned citizens and public agencies distinguish research that genuinely advances a common good from research that merely pretends to do so.

Loka Alert 6.2 - Citizens Panel on Gene-Modified Food

Loka Alert 6.1 - COMMUNITY RESEARCH NETWORK CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT and LOKA INSTITUTE NEWS Exciting announcements about Loka's Community Research Network project with news about related developments in Canada. Also updates on other Loka activities (including meetings with U.S. government officials, recent talks, & publications), and Citizen Panels in the U.K., Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Australia

1998

Loka Alert 5.6 - CONGRESS UN-VISIONS SCIENCE & TECH POLICY This Loka Alert includes "U.S. Congress Un-Visions Science & Technology Policy," the lead-off opinion essay from The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 23, 1998, in which Richard Sclove criticizes a "post-Cold War" U.S. science and technology policy proposed late September by the House Science Committee. Drawing exclusively on the views of the scientific and industrial elite, Congress is acting as though the Cold War still exists while citizens' organizations, environmental groups, and local governments don't. Also included are suggestions for further reading, how to tell Congress your opinion, and an announcement about internships at the Loka Institute.

Loka Alert 5.5 - COMMUNITY RESEARCH + CITIZEN PANEL NEWS This Loka Alert includes a **NEWS FLASH** on community-based research, updates on Citizen Panels (also known as "consensus conferences"), and an announcement that Loka has hired a new Executive Director.

Loka Alert 5.4 - COMMUNITY RESEARCH: THE PEPSI CHALLENGE! Announcing the publication of Loka's 18- month study, "Community-Based Research in the United States -- Including Comparison with the Dutch Science Shops and the Mainstream Ameran Research System." Also in this alert, you will find important updates and information about how you and your organization can become involved in -- and benefit from -- Loka's broader project to establish a worldwide Community Research Network.

Loka Alert 5.3 - VIRTUAL UNIVERSITIES? This Loka Alert features snippets from an interview with Richard Sclove in Thought & Action and a report by our colleague, Langdon Winner, on a conference he recently participated in called Digital Diploma Mills. Loka Alert 5.3 also gives an update on Loka's Community Research Network project including the announcment of an available position.

Loka Alert 5.2 - DEMOCRATIZING POST-COLD WAR SCIENCE POLICY: Action Opportunities! An editorial by Richard Sclove about democratizing U.S. science policy. It was published in Science magazine (27 Feb. issue) and is followed by some suggested easy steps for readers to promote post-Cold War science and technology policies that are more socially responsive and responsible.

Loka Alert 5.1 - GENETIC DISCRIMINATION: A PRIMER A lightly edited radio interview with Phil Bereano (a member of Loka's National Advisory Board) offering a definition and examples of Genetic Discrimination and how it relates to civil liberties issues. This Loka Alert also provides resources for what you can do.

1997

Loka Alert 4.6 - Mourning TECHNOLOGY REVIEW: written by Richard Sclove and Langdon Winner, this Loka Alert discusses the recent editorial changes at MIT's Technology Review Magazine where "innovation" will be emphasized in the future rather than "policy".

Loka Alert 4.5 - HELP CONGRESS RETHINK U.S. SCIENCE POLICY!!: Read about how Newt Gingrich, the leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, recently asked the House Science Committee to develop a new, post-Cold War, national science policy. Congressman Vern Ehlers (a Republican from M ichigan and also Vice Chairman of the House Science Committee) is leading the effort. House insiders report that there may be opportunities here to inject some new, more progressive thinking into U.S. science and technology policy. . . provided that people like you and me make some effort now to ensure that the process is opened up to a diversity of views...

Loka Alert 4.4 - SCIENCE, INC. VERSUS SCIENCE-FOR- EVERYONE: A response to a New York Times editorial (July 1997) based on a new study prepared for the National Science Foundation by CHI Research, Inc. This alert discusses questions including: Does public science drive private innovation? Does private innovation serve the public good? It argues that it is incumbent upon those of us concerned with the social significance of science and technology to press news media to introduce diverse critical viewpoints.

Loka Alert 4.3 - TELECOMMUNICATIONS & THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY: A Preliminary Report on the First U.S. Citizens' Panel describes the panel and their findings after three weekends of study and deliberation. This Loka Alert is sprinkled with quotes from panel participants and also offers personal observations of Loka's Executive Director, Richard Sclove, who was one of the primary panel organizers.

Loka Alert 4.2 - Historic, First-Time U.S. Citizens' Panel announces the first Citizen's Panel in the United States using the Danish Consensus Conference as a model. The topic? Telecommunications and the Future of Democracy. Come see citizens of the greater Boston area cross examining experts at Tufts University, April 2-4, 1997.

Loka Alert 4.1 - Technology by the People: Introducing Participatory Design describes one of the greats legs upon which an authentically democratic politics of technology must stand: participatory design. Great references are included at the end for those interested in further reading on the subject. In addition there is information on internship opportunities at the Loka Institute.

1996

Loka Alert 3.6 - Community Research News!/Loka in Mainstream!? outlines The Loka Institute's recent efforts to help build a Community Research Network. It includes notes from the July 1996 conference at Amherst College, information about community research in the U.S. today and the needs of those involved in the field. Loka Alert 3.6 also lists some of Richard Sclove's latest publications in "mainstream institutions and publications," which have traditionally disregarded STS literature.

Loka Alert 3.5 - STS on Other Planets challenges academics in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) to move beyond talking about knowledge creation in public research to actually engaging in research WITH people. Sclove envisions another planet where academics and community members act in concert to produce scientific knowledge for a more democratic society. "On Planet XI," he writes, "knowledge creation knows no sharp geographic, class or other social boundaries."

A previous Loka Alert (1:12, Nov. 1994) described the "consensus conference" process for citizen-based technology policy deliberations, pioneered by the Danish Parliament's Board of Technology: A panel of everyday lay citizens spends two weekends discussing background materials about a controversial, complex technological issue (e.g., biotechnology or telecommunications policy) that is pending before Parliament. These are genuine lay panels--that is, no experts, no representatives of organized interest groups. The Board of Technology then organizes a four-day public forum in the Parliament building. The July issue of Technology Review (published by MIT) has a full article by Richard E. Sclove, "Town Meetings on Technology," which is a more fleshed out description of this process. Since the article is a bit too long to distribute here, Loka Alert 3.4 offers an excerpt that compares several reports written by Danish lay panels with those written by experts working under the auspices of the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). This excerpt includes some text omitted, in the interest of brevity, from the published Technology Review version.

One of the more significant issues in the democratization of science and technology, but rarely covered in influential, mainstream press, is: Who gets a seat on national science and technology advisory panels? Loka Alert 3.3 is an article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education quoting several Loka "family" members. (Mar. '96)

Some readers of Loka Alerts may know the story of toxic waste in the town of Woburn, Massachusetts in the United States: Two decades ago children in Woburn were contracting leukemia at alarming rates. Other childhood disorders such as urinary tract and respiratory disease were also unusually common, as were mothers' miscarriages. The families of the leukemia victims were the first to discern a geographical pattern in the proliferation of disease. The affected families responded by initiating their own epidemiological research. Eventually they were able to establish the existence of a cluster of leukemia cases and then relate it to industrial carcinogens leaked into the water supply. Their civil suit against the corporations responsible for the contamination resulted in an $8 million out-of-court settlement and provided major impetus for federal Superfund legislation that provides resources to cleanup the country's worst toxic waste sites. The Woburn case is an example of what community-based research can accomplish. Loka Alert 3.1 (Feb. '96) describes the Loka Institute's project to establish a national community research network which will:

 

  • Help existing community research efforts learn from one another;
  • Facilitate new research collaborations and the creation of new community-based research programs;
  • Help community groups identify programs that can provide research assistance; and
  • Enhance the institutional acceptance, public visibility, stature, and funding of community-based research.

1995

Why strive to democratize science and technology? One major reason is to be able to evolve alternative systems of inquiry and technology, better adapted to people's needs and aspirations. Pretty abstract notions...unless you have some concrete examples demonstrating that alternatives are possible. Examples of alternative technologies and architecture are not that rare. But what about examples of alternative ways of knowing--that is, alternative but compelling sciences, epistemologies, and cosmologies? Loka alert 2.9, "Science and Andean Wisdom," develops this idea using the Andean region of South America as its focus.

Following unusually quickly on the heels of the last Alert, Loka Alert 2.8, Losing The Peace...Forever, Post-Cold War Science & Technology Policy in Human Terms, reviews recent developments in U.S. science and technology policy from the standpoint of a concern with social needs, environmental sustainability, and democracy. (In part, the memo fleshes out themes treated cursorily in Loka Alert 2-7). I do so with some trepidation. Says author Richard Sclove, "The "Republican revolution" in Congress is seeking to destroy/accomplish so much so fast that it is extremely hard to stay abreast of the details, and harder still to grasp their broader significance. But it is vital to make the attempt. Even while the details continue to shift daily, I believe the snapshot presented here conveys a useful sense of Republican ambitions and momentum."

Recently we celebrated America's newest Noble laureate scientists, among them two chemists who pioneered research into depletion of the earth's ozone layer. Yet the day the awards were announced, Congress resumed its systematic bid to deplete federal funding for nonmilitary research and development, including punching a 32% hole in the budget for studies on ozone destruction and other global environmental change. This season's R&D budget battles and congressional votes forecast an alarming shift in America's science and technology climate. In Loka Alert 2.7, Put Democracy into R&D, Richard Sclove shows that "all citizens, not just corporations and generals, should have a say in federal science and technology decisions."

The Loka Institute is pleased to announce the publication of Richard Sclove's new book, Democracy and Technology. The book develops a constructive agenda for democratizing all domains of technology--ranging from household to workplace, government, urban infrastructure, medicine, farming, etc. This excerpt, Cybersobriety, explores potential limitations of virtual communities. (August 29, 1995)

The United States' research system is dominated by private corporations, research universities, and a network of more than 700 national laboratories--all operating on an annual budget of $150 billion. This system is preoccupied overwhelmingly with conducting research on behalf of the military, private enterprise, and the federal government or else in pursuit of the scientific community's own intellectual interests. Taxpayers and consumers foot the bill and experience the consequences, yet very little research is conducted directly on behalf of citizens or communities. Research for Communities, Part 1 is a short opinion piece from The Chronicle of Higher Education calls for creating a national network of community research centers. Part 2 provides supporting bibliographic documentation and notes. (A slightly easier-to-read version of Part 1 can be found at NCSU.) (March 31, 1995) An update to this proposal is offered in Part 3 offers an update on this interesting and popular idea, with pointers to a relevant mailing list and another web page called Science Shops. (April 22, 1995)

Continuing on a thread from Loka Alert 2.2 (below), this alert is an Action Opportunity. WALTZING WITH ELEPHANTS? Democratizing Science & Technology Under a Republican Congress explores the idea that progressive activists could collaborate with Congressional Republicans on selected steps toward democratizing science and technology decision making. In an interesting tale, Richard Sclove encourages us to assure Congressman Walker that steps toward democratizing science and technology policymaking would be appreciated. (March 20, 1995)

The "Letters" section of the Apr. '95 issue of Technology Review (vol. 98, no. 3, p. 6) opens with a letter Richard Sclove submitted entitled "Science and the People." The letter constructively criticizes, and elaborates on, an article written by friends Dave Guston and Ken Keniston about the need to rewrite the "social contract" governing science-society relations in the U.S. The published letter is somewhat shorter and toned down compared to the original one, entitled Democratizing Science?, published here. (15 March 1995)

The 10th National Association for Science, Technology & Society (NASTS) Conference is covered in Loka Alert 2.2, Science & Technology Activists Gathering, Washington, DC, March 2-3, 1995. The purpose of this conference is to strategize a more democratic and socially responsive U.S. R&D (research and development) system. The registration fee for the NASTS conference has been waived for people who come only to participate in the mini-symposium. (7 Feb. 1995)

Loka Alert 2.1, Help Save the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), is an action alert prepared by Norman Vig, Professor of Political Science, Carleton College, Northfield, MN. Norm is, among other things, one of the best-informed people in the U.S. on comparative technology assessment as practiced by governments in Europe and North America.

1994

Some preliminary musings on the implications of last month's [Nov. '95] Republican capture of the U.S. Congress for developing a more democratic politics of science and technology. This opinion piece by Richard Sclove, Democratizing Science & Technology Under a Republican Congress? takes an enlightened look at the new congress and its implications for progressive interests. (Dec. 6, 1994)

Many recipients of Loka Alerts have been asking for some time: How can I communicate and collaborate directly with others on the Loka e-mail list? Two complementary answers are now at hand. Description and subscription info can be found in this memo: Announcing New Action-Oriented, Politics of Science & Technology Electronic Discussion Lists: pol-sci-tech and FASTnet (Federation of Activists on Science & Technology Network).(Nov. 29, 1994)

Can everyday folks play a constructive role in complex decisions involving science and technology? This memo by Richard E. Sclove, Citizen-Based Technology Assessment?, reports on a "consensus conference" model of technology assessment pioneered in Denmark and now being adopted more widely in Europe. This model describes how a panel of laypeople who roughly represent the demographic breadth of the Danish population and who do not have any significant prior knowledge of, or specific interest in, the topic at hand, are brought together for several days to attend background briefings and hearings on diverse expert presentations in order to form an advisory report on the issue at hand.

This posting is about an upcoming conference, AFRITECH '95: An International Electronic Conference; Science, Technology, and African-Americans: Perspectives and Issues for Cross Disciplinary Debate. This event will be held January 20-22, 1995, and will provide an opportunity for participants to engage in two-and-a-half days of cross disciplinary debate and discussion on a variety of topics related to technology and the African American experience.

On August 4, 1994, the Clinton Administration unveiled Science in the National Interest (SNI), the first formal presidential statement on science policy in 15 years. In formulating its policy statement, the Administration drew heavily on the advice of elite members of the scientific community. However, neither the SNI report, nor the subsequent press conference and Congressional hearing held on it, made any mention of participation in science and technology policy making by everyday citizens, by workers, or by environmental, defense conversion, or other public interest groups. This posting is by Brian Rappert & Dick Sclove, entitled Science in the National Interest.

The Clinton Administration is planning to spend up to $1 billion to help American firms compete with the Japanese in producing flat-panel displays. In fact, [the Administration's plan] is a Government subsidy for a politically well-connected industry whose executives have won over technology-dizzy Federal officials. Gary Chapman's piece, The High-Tech Gravy Train, is reprinted from The New York Times, May 31, 1994, p. A17.

Vice President Gore envisions the information superhighway as the second coming of the interstate highway system championed by his father, former U.S. Senator Al Gore, a generation ago. It's not that Gore's analogy is wrong, only that his enthusiasm is misplaced. Comparing the electronic and asphalt highways is useful--but mostly as a cautionary tale. This opinion piece by Richard Sclove and Jeffrey Scheuer, The Ghost in the Modem: For Architects of the Info-Highway, Some Lessons From the Concrete Interstate, is reprinted from the Outlook Section of the Sunday Washington Post, May 29, 1994.

The Clinton Administration and the U.S. Congress are trying to promote economic competitiveness by forging an ambitious new technology agenda. It's a beguiling vision, but it overlooks a major factor: democracy. This opinion piece by Richard Sclove, called "Democratizing Technology," is reprinted from The Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 40, no. 19 (12 January 1994), pp. B1-B2.


 

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