Epilogue: Congress Recommendations

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Connecting Worlds: The 2012 Quadrennial Physics Congress

Epilogue: Congress Recommendations

“Connecting Worlds through Technology” was not just the title of a PhysCon workshop. In a first for Sigma Pi Sigma, Quadrennial Physics Congress participants prioritized areas of focus for the society using their smartphones and tablets, with a voting mechanism developed in the conference's “GuideBook” app. Those without the app were able to simultaneously submit their votes online via the Guidebook website, or in a few cases, by filling out paper forms which were manually added to the data. Results were tabulated within minutes and shared with attendees during the closing banquet.

Historically, a primary motivation for convening the Quadrennial Congresses of Sigma Pi Sigma is to generate recommendations from its membership. These recommendations arise from the meeting after a variety of timely and relevant topics are considered and discussed during workshops and breakout groups. The recommendations help to prioritize initiatives and move the society forward to best serve the community of physics and beyond. In 2004, recommendations included expansion of diversity efforts and development of an official statement on ethics. In 2008, attendees made broader recommendations, including the call to promote science policy initiatives, expand outreach efforts, and encourage scientific citizenship among chapters.
In 2012, the voting process was accomplished with the help of technology. Attendees were asked to vote as a chapter, via a smartphone app or online, after a time set aside for chapter-based discussions. Instead of developing recommendations based on every workshop, which was part of the process at the 2004 and 2008 Congresses, attendees were asked to prioritize a list of important focus areas for the societies, as follows:

Please consider the six topics below. As a chapter, which do you consider to be the most important areas of service for SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma as student-focused societies?

  1. Service in the area of science policy.
  2. Service in the area of addressing diversity issues in physics.
  3. Service in the area of connections between academia and industry.
  4. Service in the area of connecting physics and technologies.
  5. Service in the area of connecting students with careers.
  6. Service in the area of supporting society outreach and communicating with the public.

Eighty-one chapters voted, with the most votes indicating that SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma should focus on service in the area of supporting outreach and communicating with the public. The second-most supported focus was on connecting students with careers. Over the next several years, the SPS National Council will consider these recommendations as SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma move forward. r

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