The American Association for the Advancement of Science
) is an American international non-profit organization
with the stated goals of promoting cooperation among scientist
s, defending scientific freedom
, encouraging scientific responsibility, and supporting scientific education
and science outreach
for the betterment of all humanity. It is the world's largest general scientific society, with over 120,000 members, and is the publisher of the well-known scientific journal Science,
which had a weekly circulation of 138,549 in 2008. BPA Worldwide
, June 2008
The American Association for the Advancement of Science was created on September 20, 1848 at the Academy of Natural Sciences
. It was a reformation of the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists. The society chose William Charles Redfield
as their first president because he had proposed the most comprehensive plans for the organization. According to the first constitution which was agreed to at the September 20 meeting, the goal of the society was to promote scientific dialogue in order to allow for greater scientific collaboration. By doing so the association aimed to use resources to conduct science with increased efficiency and allow for scientific progress at a greater rate. The association also sought to increase the resources available to the scientific community through active advocacy of science. There were only 78 members when the AAAS was formed. As a member of the new scientific body, Matthew Fontaine Maury
was one of those who attended the first 1848 meeting.
At a meeting held on Friday afternoon, September 22, 1848, Redfield presided, and Matthew Fontaine Maury
gave a full scientific report on his Wind and Current Charts
. Maury stated that hundreds of ship navigators were now sending abstract logs of their voyages to the United States Naval Observatory
. He added, "Never before was such a corps of observers known." But, he pointed out to his fellow scientists, his critical need was for more "simultaneous observations." "The work," Maury stated, "is not exclusively for the benefit of any nation or age." The minutes of the AAAS meeting reveal that because of the universality of this "view on the subject, it was suggested whether the states of Christendom might not be induced to cooperate with their Navies in the undertaking; at least so far as to cause abstracts of their log-books and sea journals to be furnished to Matthew F. Maury
, at the Naval Observatory at Washington."
William Barton Rogers
, professor at the University of Virginia
and later founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offered a resolution: "Resolved that a Committee of five be appointed to address a memorial to the Secretary of the Navy, requesting his further aid in procuring for Matthew Maury the use of the observations of European and other foreign navigators, for the extension and perfecting of his charts of winds and currents." The resolution was adopted and, in addition to Rogers, the following members of the association were appointed to the committee: Professor Joseph Henry of Washington; Professor Benjamin Peirce of Cambridge, Massachusetts; Professor James H. Coffin of Easton, Pennsylvania, and Professor Stephen Alexander of Princeton, New Jersey. This was scientific cooperation, and Maury went back to Washington with great hopes for the future.
Growth and Civil War dormancy
By 1860 membership increased to over 2,000. The AAAS became dormant during the American Civil War
; their August 1861 meeting in Nashville, Tennessee
was postponed indefinitely after the outbreak of the first major engagement of the war at Bull Run
. The AAAS did not become a permanent casualty of the war.
In 1866, Frederick Barnard
presided over the first meeting of the resurrected AAAS at a meeting in New York City
. Following the revival of the AAAS, the group had considerable growth. The AAAS permitted all people, regardless of scientific credentials, to join. The AAAS did, however, institute a policy of granting the title of " Fellow of the AAAS
" to well-respected scientists within the organization. The years of peace brought the development and expansion of other scientific-oriented groups. The AAAS's focus on the unification of many fields of science under a single organization was in contrast to the many new science organizations founded to promote a single discipline. For example, the American Chemical Society
, founded in 1876, promotes chemistry
In 1863, the US Congress established the National Academy of Sciences
, another multidisciplinary sciences organization. It elects members based on recommendations from colleagues and the value of published works.
Alan I. Leshner
, AAAS CEO from 2001 until 2015, published many op-ed articles discussing how many people integrate science and religion in their lives. He has opposed the insertion of non-scientific content, such as creationism
or intelligent design
, into the scientific curriculum of schools. "'Academic Freedom' Bill Dangerous Distraction,"
Alan I. Leshner, The Shreveport Times
28 May 2008 "Anti-science law threatens tech jobs of future,"
Alan I. Leshner, The Times-Picayune
6 May 2008 "Design: Critical Deception?,"
Alan I. Leshner, Akron Beacon-Journal
11 September 2006 "Science and Public Engagement,"
Alan I. Leshner, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle Review
13 October 2006
In December 2006, the AAAS adopted an official statement on climate change
, in which they stated, "The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society....The pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions
is now." AAAS Board Statement on Climate Change www.aaas.org
In February 2007, the AAAS used satellite images to document human rights abuses in Burma
. The next year, AAAS launched the Center for Science Diplomacy to advance both science and the broader relationships among partner countries, by promoting science diplomacy
and international scientific cooperation.