In April 1994 the American Chemical Society (ACS) held an Interactive Presidential Colloquium entitled “Shaping the Future: The Chemical Research Environment in the Next Century.”1 The report from this colloquium identified several objectives, including the need to ensure communication on key issues among government, industry, and university representatives. The rapidly changing environment in the United States for science and technology has created a number of stresses on the chemical enterprise. The stresses are particularly important with regard to the chemical industry, which is a major segment of U.S. industry, in terms of trade and employment opportunities for a technical workforce. A neutral and credible forum for communication among all segments of the enterprise could enhance the future well-being of chemical science and technology.
After the report was issued, a formal request for such a roundtable activity was transmitted to Dr. Bruce M. Alberts, chairman of the National Research Council (NRC), by the Federal Interagency Chemistry Representatives, an informal organization of representatives from the various federal agencies that support chemical research. As part of the NRC, the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology (BCST) can provide an intellectual focus on issues and fundamentals of science and technology across the broad fields of chemistry and chemical engineering. In the winter of 1996 Dr. Alberts asked BCST to establish the Chemical Sciences Roundtable to provide a mechanism for initiating and maintaining the dialogue envisioned in the ACS report.
The mission of the Chemical Sciences Roundtable is to provide a science-oriented, apolitical forum to enhance understanding of the critical issues in chemical science and technology affecting the government, industrial, and academic sectors. To support this mission the Chemical Sciences Roundtable will do the following:
• Identify topics of importance to the chemical science and technology community by holding periodic discussions and presentations, and gathering input from the broadest possible set of constituencies involved in chemical science and technology.
• Organize workshops and symposiums and publish reports on topics important to the continuing health and advancement of chemical science and technology.
• Disseminate information and knowledge gained in the workshops and reports to the chemical science and technology community through discussions with, presentations to, and engagement of other forums and organizations.
• Bring topics deserving further in-depth study to the attention of the NRC’s Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology. The roundtable itself will not attempt to resolve the issues and problems that it identifies—it will make no recommendations or provide any specific guidance. Rather, the goal of the roundtable is to ensure a full and meaningful discussion of the identified topics so that the participants in the workshops and the community as a whole can determine the best courses of action.
1American Chemical Society. 1994. Shaping the Future: The Chemical Research Environment in the Next Century. Report from the Interactive Presidential Colloquium, April 7-9, Washington, D.C.