APS News

APS Unveils Five-year Strategic Plan


After a year of work by its leadership, the APS strategic plan for 2013 through 2017 has been completed and is being circulated to the membership. The plan sets forth a series of goals for the Society over the next half-decade.

“The value of a strategic plan is that it articulates a common vision for the Society,” said APS Executive Officer Kate Kirby. “The process itself involves stepping back, looking at what we are doing, and identifying possible challenges and new opportunities in the future.”

The planning process, involving extensive Executive Board and APS staff discussions, was started in 2011 by the Operating Officers and the Presidential Line, as a way to develop a roadmap for the Society over the next five years. The final version of the plan was adopted by the APS Executive Board in February, presented to Council in late March, and rolled out to the leaders of APS units at the unit convocation in April. “The overall goals are to better serve the members, the physics community and society,” Kirby said.

Finding ways to better serve the members includes improving communication between the Society and its members, involving more international members in the Society’s leadership, and making the membership itself more diverse and inclusive.

“It’s important that the physics community and the APS reflects better the nationwide demographics,” Kirby said, adding that being more inclusive means involving more underrepresented minority physicists and more women, as well as reaching out to physicists who are in careers that have been underserved by APS, such as industrial physics.

To better serve the physics community as a whole, the plan outlines goals to make the physics community thrive. First and foremost, the Society aims to keep its journals and meetings as prime sources of cutting-edge physics research. In addition, the Society will continue to advocate for physics to policy makers, and continue to promote physics education at all levels.

In order to serve society as a whole, APS aims to be the leading source of information about physics, and to build support for science amongst the public. This includes disseminating information about physics, continuing its outreach efforts aimed at building public appreciation, and improving the quality of STEM education generally.

While the plan outlines strategic goals and objectives, implementation ideas will be developed through discussions between the Executive Board and APS staff and the work of various task forces and committees, and informed by suggestions from unit leadership and APS members.

“One area of concern is to make sure our Society is financially sound and that it has a good foundation,” said Robert Byer, President of APS. “[And to] look for new revenue streams outside just journals.”

A Development Task Force, headed by APS vice-President, Mac Beasley, is in the process of being formed.

One of the other task forces will look at ways APS can better serve early career physicists including students, postdocs and physicists starting their first job. Also being considered are task forces on “International Engagement” and “Re-imagining Meetings.”

A complete version of the plan is being emailed to the membership this month with a link for members to enter comments. All of the input will be read and sent to the leadership in charge of implementing the plan. The plan will also be accessed online directly through the APS website at www.aps.org.

“It’s remarkable how engaged the membership of this Society is,” Byer said.


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