Introducing the first Europe-wide meeting for scientists and science's stakeholders.
Why do science's messages so often get lost in the midst of media coverage of controversies such as genetically modified crops? If they didn't, would a regulatory process that involved more public participation help or hinder technological development? How can we separate hype from reality in fields such as stem-cell research and robotics? What are the neural underpinnings of our awareness of action? And, by the way, how can light be brought to a standstill?
The chances are that, as a Nature reader, you are interested in all of these questions. They and many others are being addressed in Stockholm, Sweden, on 25–28 August, at a meeting for scientists, policy-makers, the media and the wider public: the EuroScience Open Forum 2004. For the conference programme, see http://www.esof2004.org.
Nature should declare its interest, having supported the forum since its conception (see Nature 423, 571; 200310.1038/423571b). We are organizing two sessions: one on the prospects and challenges presented at the European level by infectious diseases; the other examining the predictability or otherwise of extreme climatic events in Europe. We are also organizing talks and workshops on careers themes, including one of universal interest, on how to negotiate your salary.
There are obvious parallels with the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). In a cynical age, some observers have questioned the need for such large gatherings. And there are bound to be grumbles about holding the inaugural European meeting of this type at the tail-end of the holiday season. But if nothing else, the AAAS meeting provides a valuable focus for mainstream media treatment of issues of scientific importance. If the EuroScience forum can achieve a reasonable fraction of this coverage, and a measure of public participation, it will be a welcome addition to the annual meetings calendar.
As its name suggests, the meeting includes a specifically European agenda, with sessions that address both professional issues (such as the commercialization of Europe's universities) and topics of broader topicality (for example, the continent's transformation to a low-carbon economy). But science is global, and so are most of the topics that will be discussed in Stockholm. We hope to see you there.
About this article