Issue Date: May 16, 2011
Globalization, Opportunities, Readiness, And ACS: ACS International Center
Globalization enabled by technology, with the resulting flows of knowledge, people, and capital, is reshaping the chemical enterprise and having a profound impact on the profession. It is changing the way science is conducted. Competition for science and engineering talent is intensifying, and new centers of excellence in chemical research are rapidly emerging overseas.
The U.S. has been a global leader in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering because of its commitment to and strength in research and innovation. Today, global economics are driving changes in chemical enterprises, including expanded outsourcing of chemical manufacturing overseas, increased competition from abroad in core research areas, and domestic declines in research and infrastructure funding. These combined forces challenge our ability to generate new opportunities to sustain our global competitive advantage. The recent National Academies report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5” recognizes these trends and raises considerable alarm about the status of U.S. science in the face of global competition.
In many other countries, scholars have long viewed international experience as essential to professional success. This is less the case in the U.S. Although American Chemical Society member chemists and chemical engineers are increasingly engaging in transnational collaboration in their professional activities, we need to promote this trend to strengthen and sustain competitiveness. An internationally engaged scientific community is critical to building the collaborative teams and networks that are needed to tackle the scientific and societal challenges of our time.
Last year, the Presidential Task Force on Implementing the Concept of the ACS International Center—which was led by Judith L. Benham, chair of the Committee on International Activities—provided recommendations for development of the ACS International Center. The goal is to ensure that the next generation of ACS members and chemical practitioners is prepared to engage in the global chemical enterprise. The center will encourage international exchange and collaboration for chemists at all levels through global partnerships. The ACS Board of Directors affirmed the concept of the ACS International Center at its December 2010 meeting, and teams are now taking steps to implement it.
The ACS International Center will be primarily virtual and will focus on four areas:
■ Creation of an information clearinghouse to assist chemical practitioners who seek to participate in international exchange and collaboration. Elements will include lists of available exchange programs (with links to their websites), suggestions for addressing challenges inherent in exchange programs, options for language training, and content regarding cultural adjustment.
■ Development and dissemination of persuasive evidence of the value of international collaborations. This section of the center will identify metrics and/or assessment methods to evaluate the success of collaboration and exchange experiences. The findings would then be used to develop communication materials to promote the value of international exchange, including customized tool kits for specific audiences.
■ Development and dissemination of best practices in education and training that catalyze innovation in the global chemical enterprise. These resources will include existing publications and reports about methodology, successful practices, educational form and content, and additional resources for acquiring skills, as well as links to external sources of information.
■ Development and implementation of best practices for science-based input to domestic and international policy. This content will build upon ACS’s successful advocacy efforts to focus attention on the gap in international education and training, as well as funding, immigration, and other related issues. Effective science-based policy would enhance U.S. competitiveness and facilitate engagement in and actions to address global issues and challenges.
A summary of the presidential task force’s recommendations on implementing the ACS International Center will be posted online on the ACS Network at www.acs.org/network. We ask that you join and visit this group on the network to provide us with your ideas as to how we can best fulfill our goals.
The ACS International Center concept holds profound promise for ACS to play a key role in fostering a talent pool that can contribute to emerging science areas related to world and national challenges, in support of Goals 2 and 3 of the ACS Strategic Plan (strategy.acs.org).
The ACS International Center can shape the education and training of effective science professionals for successful participation in the U.S. and global science and technology enterprise and provide an opportunity to extend the energy created by International Year of Chemistry 2011. It is imperative that we encourage U.S. talent to engage in international research collaboration and exchange experiences, to learn about the global character of the chemical enterprise, and to cultivate new skill sets that will serve them in globally competitive science.
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