News Bulletin: May 1998

News from the Commissions

As reported in the summary of the last meeting of the Executive with the Chairs of the commissions (NB98-2), it is intended that there be an opportunity for commissions to give news of their activities and of work in progress. With this News Bulletin we have the first such report.

Publishing on the Internet - New Ventures by the Commission on Education

One of the tasks of the International Commission on Physics Education (ICPE) is to promote production of materials to help physics educators throughout the world - which means that distribution has to be global and costs have to be low. The Internet is the new way to do this.

The Commission's recent venture in this direction has been the production of a book, the aim of which is explained by the title : - "Connecting Research in Physics Education with Teacher Education". The book has been edited by three former officers of the commission - Jorge Barojas (Mexico), Andrée Tiberghien (France) and Leonard Jossem (USA). The book has four main sections as follows:-

  • Perspectives on Physics,
  • Students' Knowledge and Learning,
  • Teachers' Attitudes and Practices, and
  • Planning and Analysis of Teaching Situations.

Twenty-three authors from nine countries, all with recognised standing in physics research, have freely contributed the work, so that it constitutes a state-of-the-art resource for those training future physics teachers.

The book has an ISBN number, but it will only be printed on paper by those who wish to download it. It is 'published' on the following web site:

Thus the book is free to anyone with the facilities to access the web site. Links of this site with the ICPE's own web-site and that of the IUPAP are being set up. The text is currently in English only; versions in French and Spanish are being prepared, using a grant which UNESCO gave to help the production and dissemination.

A second venture of this type started from the argument that there are many books which would be of value, particularly in developing countries, which are out of print and for which there is no commercial interest in re-printing, let alone in world-wide distribution. The strategy proposed is to select quality materials of this type, and then obtain copyright clearance, scan the texts into electronic storage and 'publish' on the Internet.

This venture has been started with a set of four books produced by the Higher Education Learning Project. This was a collaborative project between physicists in six universities in the UK in the late 1970s, who developed innovative methods and evaluative research with their own students. The project reported its work in four books for college lecturers, and these are still judged to be valuable resources both for their research results about the perspectives of students and for the many practical ideas for improved physics teaching which they contain. A collaborative venture has been set up with a USA higher education project, Project Nova directed by Dennis Sunal of the University of Alabama School of Engineering, and a grant to help with the costs of scanning in the texts and diagrams has been donated by the UK Institute of Physics. The work of scanning and editing is now under way. It is hoped to complete late this years, and the texts will then be freely available with links between the NOVA, ICPE and IUPAP sites.

The next problem to be tackled is the limited availability of access to the Internet and to down-loading facilities in developing countries. Two approaches are being explored. One is to set up a directory, of institutions and individual physicists with facilities who are willing to download and print on request from anyone in their region, charging only the marginal costs of the operation. This is being explored at the moment for countries in Africa. A second possibility, which is also being negotiated, is by a contract with a commercial organisation which aims to provide such a service around the world, again at the low cost of down-loading and printing on demand. In either of these approaches, the main problem will be to publicise in print the materials available and the procedures for obtaining them.

It is commonplace to predict that the Internet will be a new force for global interchange. What is needed is to explore ways of making this happen. C-14 hopes that it will find ways to make it happen for physics education.

1999 Conferences for Sponsorship by IUPAP

Commissions are reminded that proposals for sponsorship of conferences that are scheduled to take place in 1999 should be made to the commissions, through either the secretary or the chair. The deadline for commissions to forward such proposals to the Associate Secretary-General is July 31, 1998. These applications for sponsorship will be considered at the meeting of the Executive and Chairs to be held in Vancouver, BC, Canada, September 25-26, 1998.

Plans for the 1999 IUPAP General Assembly

The 23rd General Assembly of IUPAP will be held in Atlanta, GA, USA, March 17-20, 1999, and will immediately precede the Centennial meeting of the American Physical Society. In place of the traditional academic sessions of the General Assembly, IUPAP delegates will join the sessions of the APS Centennial meeting. Election procedures will be streamlined so that business will be completed by Friday.

It is anticipated that this APS Centennial meeting will be the largest physics meeting ever held in the world. The meetings will take place at the Georgia World Congress Centre.

Special events surrounding this physics meeting are in the early planning stages. On Saturday and Sunday, March 20-21, 1999, there will be special talks and parties celebrating how physics has affected society in the 20th Century. The emphasis of the weekend will be on international physics, science policy, and the major achievements of physics as manifest by Nobel Laureates.

Subsequent sessions of the conference from Monday to Friday, March 22-26, 1999 will include special talks focusing on the history and future of physics, with public lectures in the Atlanta community and special events in the Atlanta schools and universities.

Elections of IUPAP Officers, 1999-2002

Commissions and Liaison Committees are reminded that elections will take place at the General Assembly in March, 1999. This moves the elections six months earlier than normal. Accordingly, consideration of possible candidates should already be underway.

In order to leave more time for other business, an attempt will be made to streamline the election procedures without loss of transparency and influence on the part of the delegates.

Election procedures are adopted at each General Assembly and it is thus the privilege of each Assembly to adjust them to suit the occasion.

According to the statues of IUPAP, the General Assembly elects:

  • the President, the President-Designate, the Secretary-General, the Associate Secretary-General
  • Upon nomination by the Council, the Assembly elects 5 Vice-presidents from among the Chairs of incoming Commissions and 3 additional Vice-Presidents of which at least one is from a less developed country.
These, with the Past President, form the Council.
  • For each regular commission (C2-C20) the Assembly elects a Chair, a Vice-Chair, a Secretary and 10 Members. the Chair or the Vice-Chair shall represent the industrial community of physicists.

Commissions and Liaison Committees are invited to nominate candidates for all offices as given above. Nominations for Vice-Presidents must coincide with a nomination for a Commission Chair. Nominations should be submitted no later than August 1, 1998 to the IUPAP office in Göteborg (as below). Nominations should be made on the nomination form, completed as specified. Commissions should ensure that those nominated have consented and, if elected, are willing to be active members.

All nominations will be considered by a joint meeting of the Council and Chairs in Vancouver, Sept 56-26, 1998. At that meeting a slate will be prepared and circulated to all the Commissions and Liaison Committees, together with a list of all nominations received by Council. This should reach the Commissions before the end of November. Official delegates to the General Assembly will have the right to resubmit nominations by a specified date before the Assembly. At the assembly, right before the elections, there will then be time for a discussion of the candidates.

Although the timing of the above procedure is modified, the essential elements of previous elections are retained.

IUPAP Secretariat for the Nominations:
c/o Claery Persson
Vittens gata 11, Näset
S-421 65 V. Frölunda

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