The responsibilities of the physics community to society occasionally require physicists to make public statements about the use of science and technology in the public interest or about the public understanding and support of science necessary to sustain the useful contributions of science to society.
Some of these statements apply to all of physics, but some represent more specialized concerns of physicists in certain physics specialties, geographical locations, workplace settings, demographic groups, etc. The rest of the physics community may or may not agree with these concerns.
The APS organizational structure encompasses units for scientific specialty, geographic, demographic and other interests. Each unit has public responsibilities and on occasion may want to advise government officials or the public on issues of concern to members of that APS unit.
The Council of the APS recognizes the value of such initiatives. However, in order to preserve the unity and effectiveness of APS in public affairs, the Council requires that statements by units not be in conflict with legitimate interests of other parts of APS, or of APS as a whole.
The following is APS policy regarding public statements arising from any APS unit.
Policy on Statements by APS Units
- The APS Council strongly affirms that in order to preserve the unity and public credibility of the APS as a whole, "APS statements" are only those statements reviewed and authorized by the Council, as provided in the APS Constitution and By-laws. In general, these will address important interests of the whole of APS, and will be issued by the Council.
- APS units considering matters of public affairs are encouraged to address themselves to issues which are important to all of APS and which should be APS statements. Such statements drafted by the units should be submitted to the Council through POPA, with appropriate background material, for approval as APS statements according to the APS Constitution and By-laws.
- APS units may issue statements of narrower concern, provided that they are not in conflict with legitimate concerns of any other unit of APS or of the APS as a whole. Such statements are not APS statements. The APS unit wanting to make such a public statement should first send a draft to the APS Executive Officer for review, along with a background description of the reason for issuing it, the intended audience and effect, and the distribution plan. The Executive Officer will assist the unit in determining there is no conflict, by timely consultation with other APS officers, POPA, and APS unit executives, and by arranging discussions when appropriate.
- Statements by APS Units must be:
- released in a context (e.g., letterhead, e-mail heading, introduction on media interview or testimony, etc.) and with appropriate explanatory words, to make clear that the statement comes from a unit of the APS and not from the APS as a whole;
- recorded in the Washington Office of the APS along with a description of the reason for issuing it, the intended audience, and the distribution plan.
(Adopted by the Council on November 6, 1994; Revision approved by Council on November 9, 2018)
Category: Internal Policy