Second Write2Know Campaign Launches 28/09


Write2Know for University Educators

Do you teach university-level courses related to the environment and health? Civics and science? Do you need concrete and empirical examples of the links between science, citizenship, and politics for your students? Are you passionate about the role of education in democracy and social change?

Involve your students in the Write2Know campaign this fall! This letter-writing campaign gives students the tools they need to ask federal scientists questions about research in the public interest. Students can also sign pre-written Write2Know letters posing questions to federal scientists and ministers about the health of our bodies, communities, and environments.  Students can learn about the relationship between science, politics, the environment and human health. And with the federal election underway, Write2know gets students involved in civic life.

Use Write2Know into your classroom to:

  1. Discuss health and/or environmental issues relevant to your course and the broader Canadian and international contexts. Topics include: Marine plasticsclimate changeresource extraction, nuclear waste, endocrine disruptors, and more.
  2. Explore the role of the federal government in monitoring the health and well-being of Canadians, and disseminating research in the public interest. What is the relationship between knowledge and governance? What kinds of access to information do we require for a healthy democracy?
  3. Learn about the recent history of censoring federal scientists and destruction of scientific data in Canada.
  4. Discuss the role of public interest research and public access to federally funded research on environmental and human health.
  5. Sign a Write2know letter addressed to federal scientists and ministers, or develop your own questions for a federal scientist. A “How To Guide” for developing new questions is provided on the Write2Know website.

The Write2Know website offers a suite of resources for classroom teaching, including:

  • Videos and articles that contextualize the issue of science and citizenship in Canada
  • A How to Guide for writing your own letters
  • Informative slides to accompany your lecture (Single SlideMultiple Slides)
  • Links to access the directory of federal scientists and their specialties
  • Sample Write2know letters
  • Media coverage about federal science and scientists in Canada

Write2Know week runs September 28-October 2, when a concentrated push for letters will be made. However, you can write or sign letters before or after this period.

For more about the Write2Know campaign and to learn more about us, and our partners, see our website.

Want to share your ideas, classroom activities, and resources? We’d love to hear from you and share your ideas with other educators. Write to us at

Weekly Roundup

Project SETI for the search of extraterrestrial life is to close down due to financial difficulties. Paul Davies, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University, said “it would be an utter tragedy if a unique research programme is abandoned for the cost of a few miles of motorway … Our society squanders vast sums on trivia and entertainment, yet cannot find some small change to address the burning issue of whether we are alone in the universe,” The Guardian reports.

David Bruggeman discusses whether an alleged “muzzling” of Canadian scientists in the media is an issue for the Canadian elections.


Weekly Roundup

Leading philosophy journal Synthese has published a mostly critical issue on creationism and intelligent design. The editors in chief added a disclaimer in the printed issue about some of the articles’ allegedly inappropriate tone. This has lead blogger-philosopher Brian Leiter to call for a boycott of Synthese for giving in to creationists’ pressure, and some more criticism and reactions on the blogosphere.

Is contemporary military science fiction a neoliberal simplification of the complex reality of war?

Is science policy an issue in the Canada 2011 election?

Top 40 science questions for U.S. conservation policy makers. Well, almost.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson says that scientific innovation and policy should work together.…

Weekly Roundup

Scientists solve a problem that has perplexed philosophers for 300 years. And here is a link to the actual paper.

Scientists from the Weiztman Institute of Science storm the Tel Aviv pub scene to tell its party animals about the wonders of science.

A duet from space.

How did language evolve and how much technology design is constrained on BBC’s Science in Action.

Will the Internet collapse the ivory tower?

The Ivory Tower…

Weekly Roundup

Philip Kitcher has a new article calling for philosophy to expand its concern beyond the traditional core of metaphysics and epistemology. The Leiter Report has an extensive discussion of his paper, including responses from Kitcher.

Eric Schliesser responds to an essay by Robert and Virginia Shiller about the overspecialization of economics. Schliesser responds that economists don’t just need to learn more facts about the world, they need to examine the foundational assumptions of their discipline.

Will climate change affect nuclear security?

Somatosphere has audio recordings of a panel from the Society of Psychological Anthropology on “Political Subjectivity”.

Andy Stirling argues that science can give us no simple answers regarding the choice between nuclear and renewable energy.…

Weekly Roundup

National Geographic collects photos representative of humanity’s impact on the environment, which is so pervasive that the term “anthropocene” is now being used to describe the current geological epoch.

Public controversy is erupting again over the nearly exclusive use of male mice as a model organism for medical research, especially since they are still used, more often than not, to conduct research into diseases disproportionately affecting women.

NASA’s 30-year-long space shuttle program wraps up this summer. To pre-empt expected upcoming patriotic retrospectives, The Mark’s Jordan Bimm explores the shuttle’s checkered past.

Forbes reports that J. Craig Venter’s team was sued by the estate of James Joyce for encoding “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life” into their synthetic DNA; their inclusion of a Richard Feynman quote, on the other hand, merely earned them a correction from Caltech (via Marginal Revolution).

Errol Morris responds to some of the criticisms of his New York Times “Ashtray” blog.

Chris Mooney at Discover Magazine asks if scientists have “public literacy“.

Judy Sebba asks, What can academic researchers learn from think tanks?