Tech Day program will examine interface of science and politics


The annual Technology Day program features a full day of presentations by prominent speakers from the Institute and beyond, focusing on a theme of interest to alumni and the MIT community. This year's program, "When Worlds Collide: Science, Politics and Power in the 21st Century," will explore the role of scientists outside the laboratory.

The Saturday, June 8 symposium is one of the events planned for alumni attending Tech Reunions from June 6-9. Tech Day includes several lectures in the morning and three concurrent panels in the afternoon.

The morning lectures in Kresge Auditorium will explore the role of scientists in politics, education and the media. Speakers include Ronald G. Prinn (Sc.D. 1971), the TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry, head of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and co-director of the Joint Program of the Science and Policy of Global Change; and John M. Deutch (S.B. 1961, Ph.D.), an Institute Professor in chemistry and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

They will be joined by Shirley Malcom, director of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (and parent of a 2001 MIT graduate); and Daniel Charles, author, contributing science correspondent to National Public Radio, and former Knight Science Journalism Fellow. President Charles M. Vest will open the program and moderate a question-and-answer session.

Prinn's presentation is titled "From Complex Science to Contentious Policy: Lessons from Global Warming." Malcom will address "Generation Next: What Do They Really Need to Know and How Do We Help Them Learn It?" Charles will talk about, "The Story is Mightier than the Data," and Deutch will speak on "The Struggle to Give Objective Scientific Advice in Washington."

Afternoon panels from 3-5 p.m. will probe the day's theme further: "The Future of Engineering Education" in Room 34-101; "MIT Research that Will Shape our Future" in Room 10-250 and "Science and the Spin Doctors: The Use and Misuse of Science in the Political Realm" in Little Kresge Theater.

Technology Day has been a formal part of reunions at MIT since 1935. The program is developed by a committee of alumni, chaired this year by Hollie K. Schmidt (S.B. 1987), and is sponsored by the Alumni Association. The Association expects the program to draw nearly a thousand alumni and guests.

Schmidt thinks the program will have broad appeal. "When I've attended Tech Day myself it's been very inspiring, and it renews my faith in MIT as an organization that attracts top people and gets them working on interesting problems that the world needs to be solved. I always feel a little bit smarter myself for having heard about the topic in more detail," she said.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 22, 2002.


Topics: Commencement

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