Ambassadors for Science, from Cambridge to Cairo

Some might argue that university extension agents are ambassadors for science. The growing contingent of science festival advocates are about to take that a whole lot further.

The Science Festival Alliance is essentially Ben Wiehe. He is the only employee of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded alliance and he spends his time connecting people from east to west coast and everywhere in between. Wiehe is the go-to guy for organizers that want to make public science events a reality. MIT Museum houses Wiehe and while talking with him yesterday, he mentioned that the reach of the alliance will extend from Cambridge all the way to Cairo next year.

“We received an award from NSF to run a workshop in Cairo in January to stimulate the growth of science festivals in the Middle East,” he shared. “It’s a limited award, it’s not an enormous amount of resources but it’s enough to hold a meeting.” Many organizations from Cairo as well as some from across the Middle East and Arab world are expected to attend.

The Science Festival Alliance is also going to directly support the Cairo Science Festival and provide materials to help their public outreach efforts. That won’t be the festival’s first collaboration with a Cambridge group . Cairo’s festival dates overlapped with the Cambridge Science Festival this year the audiences were linked by webcast as part of both events.

Given oft controversial U.S. foreign policy, the celebration of science highlights a different type of international interfacing. The Science Festival Alliance also interacts with the European Science Events Association (Eusea). “Several [Eusea affliiates] mentioned they found this new activity in the U.S very refreshing,” Wiehe stated.


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