IAA SETI Committee
Subcommittee on Media and Education
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, October 6th, 1999

1. Attendance:

Chairman : Tarter
Members: Malina, Doyle, DeBiase, Shostak, Pierson, Billingham, Vakoch, Richard Clar, Harrison, Pletser, Woods, Ollengren
(see appendix 1)

2. Adoption of the Agenda of the Meeting

The chairman, J. Tarter, opened the meeting. The following topics were on the agenda (see appendix 2)

The agenda was approved as presented.

3. Approval of the Report on the Last Meeting

Approval of Minutes from last time: there was no meeting in Melbourne
Draft Terms of Reference for this committee: Were reviewed in Melbourne. The proposed terms of reference will be redistributed to the subcommittee. A proposal has been received from Carol Oliver to broaden the terms of reference of the sub/committee to make it more pro/active. Rather than reactive to accompany post detection. This will be discussed on line.

4. IAA Conferences and Symposia

4.1 Academy participation to the International Astronautical Congress

4.1.1. Status of 2000 Sessions at Rio


It was discussed whether to have a session derived from this committee's work for Rio? Answer : no.
It is not felt that organizing sessions should be part of the core work of this subcommittee.

4.1. 2. Status of Preparation of the 2001 Toulouse

Subcommittee meeting:
The subcommittee should meet in Rio, a meeting will be requested, and get fully organized and prepare for Toulouse.

Planning for Toulouse: There will be a subcommittee meeting requested.
No sessions will be requested.
Press Outreach: if the Rio activity for a press briefing is successful, then this
Would be carried forward a s an idea for Toulouse. We can work with Louis Laidet in the Toulouse context.

4.1. 3. Status of Preparation of the 2002, Houston

Preparation for Word Space Congress for 2002 in Houston.: This will be joint with COSPAR Section F. Exobiology is one connection. Perhaps also the Lunar Farside study.

4.2. Status of Participation at COSPAR Congress, Warsaw, July 2000

no session

4.3. Status of New Participation at COSPAR 2002, Houston

no session

4.3 Stand Alone Symposium 2000-2001

Involvement in Stand Alone Symposia: Jill points out that there will be an IAU meeting in 2002. Details t.b.d. Billingham asked about SETI Institute's Voyages Through Time project, would it be a stand alone conference potential. Jill sees VTT as a key presentation at the World Space Congress, but she doesn't see it as a stand-alone conference.

5. Committee Membership

5.1 New Members

Tarter, Malina, Doyle, DeBiase, Shostak, Pierson, Billingham, Vakoch, Richard Clar, Harrison, Pletser, Woods, Ollengren

Committee membership: We want to have media and education representatives. We probably need a round of email discussions. Carol Oliver's email providing suggestions will be circulated. The persons present at this meeting will be submitted asked founding members of this subcommittee. A list of persons nominated to the subcommittee was also circulated. Carol Oliver will be invited to serve as Secretary for this Subcommittee.

6. Committee Publication Activity Review

6.1. Publications

no publication yet

6.2 Position Paper or Cosmic Study


6.3 Report to the U.N.

no proposal

7. Nominations for Academy 2000 Book Awards

no proposal

8. Schedule Conflicts to be avoided at the next Astronautical Congress
8.1 List of recommended sequence of meetings:


8.2 List of Committee Meetings or Technical Sessions that should not be in parallel


9. Committee Contribution to the IAA World Wide Web Site

Pletser offers to translate some of this material into multiple languages especially the web page(s).

Pletser will help translate the web pages into French and Russian. Ollengren to Dutch, Swedish.

10. Other Business

Education outreach opportunities: Tarter suggested that perhaps we should set up some interactive telescope control of LeMarchand's telescope as an educational endeavor. If not this, then possibly a press conference. Malina felt that this could be done as part of education outreach activities but it was not clear how this subcommittee could-should take the lead on this.

Press outreach: Shostak suggested that a press conference would be a good idea. He often gets email with pseudo science questions. Perhaps a SETI Press briefing would be a good educational tool. Malina supported this idea.

Vakoch would like to see people from the social sciences and humanities involved also with the press, and he requests that this happen.

Malina knows of two Brazilian journalists (Faviola de Oliviera, Coimbra Sirica) who might help make this happen. The focus would be a press briefing on the real SETI science, progress through that date. Shostak will look through his files to see if he knows of any other Brazilian contacts. Malina agreed to contact. The journalists to see if a press briefing could be set up to reach out to the media beyond the usual Congress press.

Roger points out that if we want to do it within the Congress, there are strict rules about access to the press. This might cause us to do an outreach event in a location not in the congress venue.

Liaison with Art and Literature Subcommittee of the IAA:

Vakoch -- Plans for Toulouse are being generated for an artists and poets SETI session. This might grow into a third session, or a specific exhibit either part of the Congress or separate in the city somewhere.

Clar described the idea of some sort of poetry contest, sponsored by SETI Institute. Malina suggested that over the past five years, the history of exhibits has difficult) lack of financial and moral support by Congress organizers in general. There is a space exhibit center in Toulouse that would probably welcome this. It does have a cost, several thousands of dollars, but probably not $10k. Jill asked about rob Lafresnay of Arts catalyst in London doing some SETI art already.

Shostak described the space art component of the annual Contact conference. There is no particular cost to do this because it is all California artists, bringing their own stuff in, so there is no shipping costs, etc. One thing we need to determine is whether this should have an education component, i.e. is it just the art as created by random artists, or do we try to bring an education component? If the latter, then indeed there is some advance cost and planning involved setting it up with the theme.

Malina points out that this kind of event may very well be outside the framework for this subcommittee. Perhaps we can endorse the work of Woods' Art & Literature Committee. He envisions that our role is directed towards interactions with 1) the professional media and 2) the professional educators (teachers and museum, etc.).

Other things in Toulouse: Sterns, Malina, Vakoch are considering a special session. Would journalists be a part of this session? Answer: Yes. It was suggested that journalists be invited to submit papers to this session of inter/disciplinary aspects of SETI.

If we are going to have a press briefing, we must identify a press officer. The IAA does not have a press officer. We can give the academy a challenge that we do not have a press officer. Billingham asked about Pierre Langereux. Malina agreed to discuss this with Langereux.

Future Plans: Assessment of future plans for what we think this group should be doing:

One example is the EQ Peg Hoax item. Should this committee have activated itself immediately and helped stand down the issue. Shostak doesn't think this is necessary. We need to ask ourselves what the role of this committee would be? Jill points out that the other subcommittee on post detection (now to be headed by Ray Norris) should have been the one to handle this.

JB thinks that in the beginning this committee would have had an active role in something like the E. Q. Peg item. However, it now seems that this committee's role might be better served dealing systematically with the media. A good reference for this ongoing effort is detailed in the CASETI report.

Seth points out an example: SETI@home users might easily believe that they have a signal, and call their local media. Undoubtedl then that media will call the SETI Institute. Will they, or should they call this committee.

Malina asked if our committee is of a referral role? Tarter reminded everyone of what Oliver had suggested in Melbourne. It was more a role of preparation for all SETI folks. Develop a media reaction plan. Malina compared it to the media's use of the Center for Infectious Diseases is the automatic place that media goes to in such a crisis. Should our committee be that in the case of SETI.

Vakoch suggested having a list of contacts, including language specific. This can be a list of experts far beyond only SETI. It could include religious theologians, linguists, etc. We should give all of these folks a prier, of sorts, on SETI. Shostak thinks this won't work. Reporters have their own lists of trusted contacts in each discipline. He is not sure our list will be used that much. Perhaps we should include it anyway.

Malina asked what then is our role of our committee? Billingham believes that it to educate the community. Malina pointed out that then the best thing we can do may indeed be he annual briefing. Perhaps this committee could send a couple of representatives from this committee to address the international congress of science writers. We could endorse them, but not pay for them. We really need some members of the press on this committee. Tarter suggests we enlist the 5 or 6 press people who usually come to this Congress to join this committee.

Malina believes an important part of the role of this committee is post-detection reaction. Perhaps the best way to do this is via preparation and education.

Pletser suggested we target young people. Malina said this could be done through the Congress new mandate that resulted in the student participation this year. Malina said the right way to do this would be to file a page on the web providing guidance as to where to find resource materials. The subcommittee should try and provide content to the congress education outreach activities.

Shostak: Two good ideas came of today that can be done within the limited resources of this committee:

1) Press briefing in Rio.
2) One page on web of materials endorsed by this committee for youth education related to SETI.

Malina -- Perhaps another item on our agenda is for someone on this committee offer to contact the Brazilian organizers and suggest that SETI materials would be a good part of the outreach.

Note: Subsequent to the meeting of the subcommittee there were a number of discussions as to whether the kinds of activities being discussed really required organization via a subcommittee or whether they could not better be achieved via other mechanisms) e.g. press briefings could really be coordinated at the main SETI committee level, involvement in education outreach through the existing organization of education outreach or the IAF education committee. This discussion will be continued on line and

11. Next Meeting

Rio October 2000