WASHINGTON -- In keeping with its mission to communicate the nature, values, and judgments of science to the public, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is launching LabX, a public engagement initiative that will promote evidence-based decision-making on issues that have significant relevance to communities and in which science is an important factor.
"In today's world where the boundary between science and science fiction is hard to discern, it is too easy to forget the very real way that science and technology are -- and should be -- applied to make meaningful differences in our lives," said National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt. "LabX engages citizens in the application of science to community decision-making to promote resilience, improve safety and security, and achieve any number of other desirable outcomes."
The program will engage audiences through a combination of online platforms and face-to-face group activities at venues in Washington, D.C.--including the Academy's historic building on the National Mall--and at other locations around the country. LabX programming will kick off with an immersive event on March 7, organized in conjunction with Museum Hack and the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences. More information about that event, including information on how to register, can be found here.
The LabX program will build upon the work of the Academy's Koshland Science Museum, which opened in 2004 and closed in November 2017, and continue the museum's mission of inspiring people to use science to solve problems in their communities, focusing in particular on engaging with young adults. One model for such engagement is the Extreme Event role-playing game, which focuses on disaster resilience. The game has been played in more than 40 cities across the U.S., Europe, and Asia by a variety of community and educational groups supporting preparedness.
NAS member Jane Lubchenco chairs the LabX advisory board of experts who are guiding the new program. "I see the LabX program as an amazing opportunity to develop creative mechanisms that can help make science more engaging and more relevant to the general public," said Lubchenco. "I'm thrilled to work with this group of incredibly talented, energized board members to come up with new ideas and approaches."
The LabX program is supported by the generous gift from the late NAS member Daniel E. Koshland Jr. in memory of his wife, Marian E. Koshland, also an NAS member, to establish and operate the Koshland Science Museum. The NAS is grateful for his generosity, for the ongoing support of the Koshland family, and for NAS members' involvement in the evolution and expansion of public engagement with science.
"The Koshland family is excited about the change and supports of the direction of LabX," said Gail Koshland, daughter of Daniel and Marian. "LabX will continue to focus on the fundamental principles on which the Koshland Science Museum was established to develop rich, immersive experiences related to issues in everyday life."
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and -- with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine -- provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.
Geoffrey Hunt, LabX Program Director
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