From the Chair

Randy Knight

FEd and COE
With this issue of the newsletter I would like to welcome what we hope will become a regular new feature: A “From the Chair” column written by the chair of the APS Committee on Education (COE). For 2015-16, the COE chair is Carlos Bertulani from Texas A&M University, Commerce.

You may wonder, and rightly so, how the Committee on Education differs from the Forum on Education. It’s a question I’m often asked. Is there a real difference, or is this just a proliferation of acronyms?

The FEd is one of seven APS forums. Each is a membership-driven group of people—any APS member can join—with a common interest that falls outside the research-oriented focus of the APS divisions. A forum, just as in the original Roman forum, is a place where members can communicate, interact, and exchange ideas. Thus the FEd sponsors invited sessions at meetings, publishes a newsletter, gives the yearly Excellence in Physics Education award, and helps support conferences on physics education. Notably, the FEd does not formulate policy or in any way speak for APS when it comes to matters of policy.

COE, in contrast, is a standing committee of APS with a specific charge to “advise the Society on matters pertaining to physics education at all levels, including K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and beyond.” Thus COE helps APS shape policy statements that relate to education, suggests and promotes various education initiatives that APS undertakes, and provides some degree of oversight and feedback to the APS Office of Education and Diversity. Carlos, in future columns, will tell you more about specific actions the COE is undertaking.

The Chair, Chair-Elect, and Past Chair of the FEd serve on the COE, so that each hand knows what the other is doing, but other COE members are appointed by the APS President-Elect with the advice of the Committee on Committees. If you have an interest in science education policy and would like to serve on the Committee on Education, please send an email to Ted Hodapp, the APS Director of Education and Diversity, at

In the meantime, you’re receiving this Fall newsletter just before the election begins for two new members of the FEd Executive Committee and a new Vice Chair. You’ll soon be receiving an email with voting instructions. PLEASE VOTE! It only takes a few minutes to vote online, and the strength of our forum depends on an active and engaged membership. I would like to thank the Nominating Committee (Wendy Adams, Scott Franklin, Ken Heller, Ramon Lopez, Carl Mungan, and chair John Stewart) for putting together an excellent slate of candidates.

Randy Knight is Chair of the Forum on Education. He is Professor Emeritus at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and author of the introductory textbooks Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach and (with co-authors Brian Jones and Stuart Field) College Physics.

Disclaimer – The articles and opinion pieces found in this issue of the APS Forum on Education Newsletter are not peer refereed and represent solely the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of the APS.