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Forums: Where Physics Meets Society

by Barrett Ripin, Associate Executive Officer and Mary Pat Paris, Membership Manager

Would you like to influence the impact that physics has on society, or at least be aware of what is going on? Then consider joining one or more APS Forums.

Forums are cross-disciplinary, grass roots APS Units with members interested in current issues or problems in jobs, education, historical perspectives, industry, environment, international, and other topics. Forums communicate primarily through informative and provocative newsletters and meeting symposia, and undertake activities that benefit members and society alike. Forums frequently respond to current issues and problems quickly and stimulate courses of action for the Society to undertake. Active member participation is encouraged. This vitality enhances the APS, its members, and overall society.

The Forum on Physics and Society (FPS), originally known as 'The Forum' because it was the first, was spawned in 1972 by members who were concerned with issues surrounding the turbulence of the Vietnam War and the difficult job market of that era. FPS addresses a variety of physics/society issues, such as jobs, environment and defense.

The Forum on History of Physics (FHP) followed in 1980 as a venue for physicists, historians and other members of the APS with an interest in discussing and exploring the historical dimensions of physics research.

Then, the Forum on International Physics (FIP) formed in 1982 to promote open communication and collaboration among physicists throughout the world as well as to provide assistance to colleagues in developing nations.

The Forum on Education (FED), started in 1992, provides an arena for the interchange of ideas in all levels of physics education for both educators and interested members, including those not directly involved in teaching.

FIAP, the Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics, formed just this year. It promotes improved interaction of industrial and applied physicists among themselves and the Society at large.

Currently, a group of young and established members are petitioning APS Council for the creation of another new forum to deal with the tough career and professional development issues in physics. Unfortunately, with the exception of the new FIAP, forum membership dropped sharply this year. Why?? The decline appears related to the requirement on this year's invoice that members indicate which forums they want to join or retain membership in. Some members' interests have changed since they last considered forum membership; others cut back to the two free forums allotted. Finally, and regrettably, some members simply overlooked the need to mark their choice of forums on their invoices. If you belong to the latter group or now wish to join one or more forums, fill out the sign-up form on the WWW APS Home Page [Go to URL: http://www.aps.org, click the Membership Information button, and then click the Application to Join Units button] or contact the membership department [Email: membership@aps.org; Phone: (301) 209-3280; Fax: (301) 209-0867]. There is no charge for membership in up to two forums and only $6 per additional forum. If you forgot which units you currently belong to, you can look up them up through the APS online member directory, also accessible via the APS Home Page. To look up members online, please note that the current user ID is "directory' and the current password is "F=ma". Be sure to select the search that includes unit membership.


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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin