IAA SETI Committee
Subcommittee on Media and Education
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, October 6th, 1999
Chairman : Tarter
Members: Malina, Doyle, DeBiase, Shostak, Pierson, Billingham,
Vakoch, Richard Clar, Harrison, Pletser, Woods, Ollengren
(see appendix 1)
2. Adoption of the Agenda of the Meeting
The chairman, J. Tarter, opened the meeting. The following topics
were on the agenda (see appendix 2)
The agenda was approved as presented.
3. Approval of the Report on the Last Meeting
Approval of Minutes from last time: there was no meeting in
Draft Terms of Reference for this committee: Were reviewed in
Melbourne. The proposed terms of reference will be redistributed
to the subcommittee. A proposal has been received from Carol
Oliver to broaden the terms of reference of the sub/committee to
make it more pro/active. Rather than reactive to accompany post
detection. This will be discussed on line.
4. IAA Conferences and Symposia
4.1 Academy participation to the International Astronautical
4.1.1. Status of 2000 Sessions at Rio
It was discussed whether to have a session derived from this
committee's work for Rio? Answer : no.
It is not felt that organizing sessions should be part of the
core work of this subcommittee.
4.1. 2. Status of Preparation of the 2001 Toulouse
The subcommittee should meet in Rio, a meeting will be requested,
and get fully organized and prepare for Toulouse.
Planning for Toulouse: There will be a subcommittee meeting
No sessions will be requested.
Press Outreach: if the Rio activity for a press briefing is
successful, then this
Would be carried forward a s an idea for Toulouse. We can work
with Louis Laidet in the Toulouse context.
4.1. 3. Status of Preparation of the 2002, Houston
Preparation for Word Space Congress for 2002 in Houston.: This
will be joint with COSPAR Section F. Exobiology is one
connection. Perhaps also the Lunar Farside study.
4.2. Status of Participation at COSPAR Congress, Warsaw, July
4.3. Status of New Participation at COSPAR 2002, Houston
4.3 Stand Alone Symposium 2000-2001
Involvement in Stand Alone Symposia: Jill points out that there
will be an IAU meeting in 2002. Details t.b.d. Billingham asked
about SETI Institute's Voyages Through Time project, would
it be a stand alone conference potential. Jill sees VTT as a key
presentation at the World Space Congress, but she doesn't
see it as a stand-alone conference.
5. Committee Membership
5.1 New Members
Tarter, Malina, Doyle, DeBiase, Shostak, Pierson, Billingham,
Vakoch, Richard Clar, Harrison, Pletser, Woods, Ollengren
Committee membership: We want to have media and education
representatives. We probably need a round of email discussions.
Carol Oliver's email providing suggestions will be
circulated. The persons present at this meeting will be submitted
asked founding members of this subcommittee. A list of persons
nominated to the subcommittee was also circulated. Carol Oliver
will be invited to serve as Secretary for this Subcommittee.
6. Committee Publication Activity Review
no publication yet
6.2 Position Paper or Cosmic Study
6.3 Report to the U.N.
7. Nominations for Academy 2000 Book Awards
8. Schedule Conflicts to be avoided at the next
8.1 List of recommended sequence of meetings:
8.2 List of Committee Meetings or Technical Sessions that should
not be in parallel
9. Committee Contribution to the IAA World Wide Web Site
Pletser offers to translate some of this material into multiple
languages especially the web page(s).
Pletser will help translate the web pages into French and
Russian. Ollengren to Dutch, Swedish.
10. Other Business
Education outreach opportunities: Tarter suggested that perhaps
we should set up some interactive telescope control of LeMarchand's
telescope as an educational endeavor. If not this, then possibly
a press conference. Malina felt that this could be done as part
of education outreach activities but it was not clear how this
subcommittee could-should take the lead on this.
Press outreach: Shostak suggested that a press conference would
be a good idea. He often gets email with pseudo science
questions. Perhaps a SETI Press briefing would be a good
educational tool. Malina supported this idea.
Vakoch would like to see people from the social sciences and
humanities involved also with the press, and he requests that
Malina knows of two Brazilian journalists (Faviola de Oliviera,
Coimbra Sirica) who might help make this happen. The focus would
be a press briefing on the real SETI science, progress through
that date. Shostak will look through his files to see if he knows
of any other Brazilian contacts. Malina agreed to contact. The
journalists to see if a press briefing could be set up to reach
out to the media beyond the usual Congress press.
Roger points out that if we want to do it within the Congress,
there are strict rules about access to the press. This might
cause us to do an outreach event in a location not in the
Liaison with Art and Literature Subcommittee of the IAA:
Vakoch -- Plans for Toulouse are being generated for an
artists and poets SETI session. This might grow into a third
session, or a specific exhibit either part of the Congress or
separate in the city somewhere.
Clar described the idea of some sort of poetry contest, sponsored
by SETI Institute. Malina suggested that over the past five
years, the history of exhibits has difficult) lack of financial
and moral support by Congress organizers in general. There is a
space exhibit center in Toulouse that would probably welcome
this. It does have a cost, several thousands of dollars, but
probably not $10k. Jill asked about rob Lafresnay of Arts
catalyst in London doing some SETI art already.
Shostak described the space art component of the annual Contact
conference. There is no particular cost to do this because it is
all California artists, bringing their own stuff in, so there is
no shipping costs, etc. One thing we need to determine is whether
this should have an education component, i.e. is it just the art
as created by random artists, or do we try to bring an education
component? If the latter, then indeed there is some advance cost
and planning involved setting it up with the theme.
Malina points out that this kind of event may very well be
outside the framework for this subcommittee. Perhaps we can
endorse the work of Woods' Art & Literature Committee.
He envisions that our role is directed towards interactions with
1) the professional media and 2) the professional educators
(teachers and museum, etc.).
Other things in Toulouse: Sterns, Malina, Vakoch are considering
a special session. Would journalists be a part of this session?
Answer: Yes. It was suggested that journalists be invited to
submit papers to this session of inter/disciplinary aspects of
If we are going to have a press briefing, we must identify a
press officer. The IAA does not have a press officer. We can give
the academy a challenge that we do not have a press officer.
Billingham asked about Pierre Langereux. Malina agreed to discuss
this with Langereux.
Future Plans: Assessment of future plans for what we think this
group should be doing:
One example is the EQ Peg Hoax item. Should this committee have
activated itself immediately and helped stand down the issue.
Shostak doesn't think this is necessary. We need to ask
ourselves what the role of this committee would be? Jill points
out that the other subcommittee on post detection (now to be
headed by Ray Norris) should have been the one to handle this.
JB thinks that in the beginning this committee would have had an
active role in something like the E. Q. Peg item. However, it now
seems that this committee's role might be better served
dealing systematically with the media. A good reference for this
ongoing effort is detailed in the CASETI report.
Seth points out an example: SETI@home users might easily believe
that they have a signal, and call their local media. Undoubtedl
then that media will call the SETI Institute. Will they, or
should they call this committee.
Malina asked if our committee is of a referral role? Tarter
reminded everyone of what Oliver had suggested in Melbourne. It
was more a role of preparation for all SETI folks. Develop a
media reaction plan. Malina compared it to the media's use
of the Center for Infectious Diseases is the automatic place that
media goes to in such a crisis. Should our committee be that in
the case of SETI.
Vakoch suggested having a list of contacts, including language
specific. This can be a list of experts far beyond only SETI. It
could include religious theologians, linguists, etc. We should
give all of these folks a prier, of sorts, on SETI. Shostak
thinks this won't work. Reporters have their own lists of
trusted contacts in each discipline. He is not sure our list will
be used that much. Perhaps we should include it anyway.
Malina asked what then is our role of our committee? Billingham
believes that it to educate the community. Malina pointed out
that then the best thing we can do may indeed be he annual
briefing. Perhaps this committee could send a couple of
representatives from this committee to address the international
congress of science writers. We could endorse them, but not pay
for them. We really need some members of the press on this
committee. Tarter suggests we enlist the 5 or 6 press people who
usually come to this Congress to join this committee.
Malina believes an important part of the role of this committee
is post-detection reaction. Perhaps the best way to do this is
via preparation and education.
Pletser suggested we target young people. Malina said this could
be done through the Congress new mandate that resulted in the
student participation this year. Malina said the right way to do
this would be to file a page on the web providing guidance as to
where to find resource materials. The subcommittee should try and
provide content to the congress education outreach activities.
Shostak: Two good ideas came of today that can be done within the
limited resources of this committee:
1) Press briefing in Rio.
2) One page on web of materials endorsed by this committee for
youth education related to SETI.
Malina -- Perhaps another item on our agenda is for someone
on this committee offer to contact the Brazilian organizers and
suggest that SETI materials would be a good part of the outreach.
Note: Subsequent to the meeting of the subcommittee there were a
number of discussions as to whether the kinds of activities being
discussed really required organization via a subcommittee or
whether they could not better be achieved via other mechanisms)
e.g. press briefings could really be coordinated at the main SETI
committee level, involvement in education outreach through the
existing organization of education outreach or the IAF education
committee. This discussion will be continued on line and
11. Next Meeting
Rio October 2000