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By Jonathan Bagger
Editor’s note: The following is an introduction and accompaniment to this month’s Back Page.
Physics is a worldwide effort. Today, close to one quarter of APS members live outside the United States. Three-quarters of the papers published in APS journals have corresponding authors with international affiliations. And so much of science is done by collaborations that cross national borders.
What is the role of APS in this global endeavor? The Society’s Office of International Affairs has long been part of the APS, advancing physics, furthering cross-cultural communication, and speaking out for oppressed scientists. Today, the APS Committee on International Scientific Affairs and the APS Office of International Affairs have built a portfolio of programs that serve APS members and physicists worldwide.
But there is clearly more to do. The APS strategic plan that covered the years 2013 to 2017 identified expanding international engagement as a key goal of the Society, and in March 2017, APS Chief Executive Officer Kate Kirby launched the APS Task Force on Expanding International Engagement.
The Task Force was composed of 12 APS members living or working across the globe with a broad range of research interests and leadership experiences. The Task Force worked for nearly 18 months to understand the priorities of all APS stakeholders and to identify goals and recommendations for the Society’s leadership. As Chair of the Task Force, I am deeply grateful for the time and talent they devoted to the task, as well as for input and guidance we received from the APS Board and Council, APS journal editors and staff, and APS members worldwide.
Our committee’s report identified guiding principles, shared values, overarching goals, a set of supporting recommendations, as well as an implementation plan. In November 2018, I was proud to present the Task Force’s Report, Recommendations & Implementation Plan to the APS Council of Representatives at its meeting in Dallas, Texas. Our recommendations were well received and fully adopted by the Council. I am pleased that APS members will learn more about this effort on the Back Page of this issue of APS News. Likewise, the full report is available on the APS website.
In reading the Back Page, you will see that our wide-ranging recommendations affect all aspects of APS. Our implementation plan provides concrete actions the Society can take to ensure our recommendations will have the most impact. This will be done with the guidance of the APS Committee on International Scientific Affairs (CISA) and the APS Office of International Affairs, in coordination with other APS committees and departments.
Our primary recommendation is that APS deepen its international engagement across the full range of Society activities. This is a transformational recommendation, one that affects the entire APS, not just the programs under the direct purview of the APS Office of International Affairs. We believe that our report can serve as a useful guide towards expanding the Society’s service, not just to APS members, but to the entire international physics community.
I cannot think of a better time for this report to appear. Physics relies on the free circulation of people and ideas. I need only look at my laboratory, TRIUMF, to see this demonstrated every day. Our users and visitors travel to Canada from some 39 countries, spanning every continent except Antarctica. Our students and staff hold passports from 30 nations.
Today, with isolationism on the rise globally, these fundamental principles are under threat. By increasing its international engagement, following the goals and recommendations presented by the Task Force on Expanding International Engagement, APS can stand in support of the global physics community and of the values we share worldwide.
Jonathan Bagger is the Director of TRIUMF and served as Chair of the APS Task Force on Expanding International Engagement. He also has served on the APS Board of Directors, Council of Representatives, and has Chaired the APS Division of Particles and Fields (DPF) and Committee on International Scientific Affairs (CISA).
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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik