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Public Engagement Working Group

Public Engagement Working Group (February 23, 2017)

The Boston-Cambridge Public Engagement Working Group is a discussion forum for a diverse group of scholars, including scientists, historians, and communication experts, to draw lessons from historical case studies that could be applied to future efforts to develop public consensus on potentially controversial scientific developments. The working group had its introductory meeting on February 23 to introduce the Working Group, clarify its purpose and goals, and to finalize the selection of the case studies.

The group chose the topic of vaccines as its first case study, with the discussion taking place on March 30. The featured speakers were two of the co-chairs for the Academy’s 2014 report Public Trust in Vaccines: Barry Bloom (Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor, Harvard School of Public Health) and Seth Mnookin (MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing).

The second session, which occurred on April 13, focused on controversies surrounding gene editing. The featured speakers were Sophia Roosth (Department of the History of Science, Harvard University); Richard O. Hynes (HHMI Investigator and the Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT); and Kevin Esvelt (Assistant Professor, MIT Media Lab).

The third session took place on May 11 with a focus on atmospheric pollution. The featured speakers are James Fleming (Charles A. Dana Professor of Science, Technology, and Society) and Philip Duffy (President and Executive Director, Woods Hole Research Center).


James Haber (Brandeis University)

Planning Group:

Claude Canizares (MIT), Janet Browne (Harvard University), Bob Horvitz (MIT), Lisa Randall (Harvard University)