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Public Affairs Update

  • Role of the media in terrorism response . . . . The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Academy of Engineering within the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will host a series of 10 interactive workshops across the country on the crucial role of the media in terrorism response. Titled “News and Terrorism: Communicating in a Crisis,” the purpose is to provide journalists and state and local public information officials with the tools and contacts needed to report complicated but potentially life-saving information in the event of a terrorist attack. This terrorism preparedness exercise is designed to vividly bring to the forefront the many challenges faced by all of these groups during a crisis in getting accurate and timely information to the public. The NAE will provide straightforward information on weapons of mass destruction including a series of fact sheets on specific terrorist threats as well as a listing of experts that can provide reliable information quickly in a time of crisis. For a tentative schedule (listing cities and dates), and for more information, see

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . . . . through its National Center for Health Statistics announces two publications of interest to social scientists. Characteristics of Emergency Departments That Serve High Volumes of Safety Net Patients presents information about emergency departments with caseloads driven by high proportions of uninsured patients and Medicaid recipients. The report examines hospital, community, and patient factors associated with use of these emergency departments. Findings are based on an analysis of data from the 2000 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, Area Resource File, and reports of Medicaid Disproportionate Share Program receipts by hospitals. (See The second report, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults: United States, 2002, examines the reason for complementary and alternative medicine use, ranging from back and neck problems to anxiety and depression. It presents data on the use of prayer for health reasons, natural products, meditation, deep breathing, and diet-based therapies. Data are analyzed by characteristics such as age, gender, geographic region, and health insurance status. Findings are based on household interviews conducted by the National Health Interview Survey. For more information, see

  • Award for Scientific Achievement in science policy . . . . . Al Teich, the Director of Science and Policy Programs for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), was recently awarded the prestigious Award for Scientific Achievement by the Washington Academy of Sciences. The award is bestowed on some of the most influential Washingtonian scientists and science teachers and has been given to at least one Nobel Prize winner and leaders from top universities, labs, and institutes. Teich oversees development of the AAAS’s annual report on federal research and development spending and many other programs. Past winners include Bill Phillips, who won the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics; renowned primatologist Jane Goodall; and Amitai Etzioni, Past-President of the American Sociological Association and founder of the Communitarian Network. The Academy was founded in 1898 by a group of scientists that included Alexander Graham Bell. It presented its first awards in 1940.

    A congressional briefing cosponsored by ASA drew a standing-room-only crowd on Capitol Hill in early June and addressed social science research on “Risk and Crisis Communication.” The Consortium of Social Science Associations coordinated the briefing, which was also cosponsored by the National Communication Association. [Left to right, bottom photo] Lee Herring, ASA Director of Public Affairs, with speakers Katherine Rowan, George Mason University; sociologist Havidán Rodríguez, University of Delaware; and H. Dan O’Hair, University of Oklahoma. Rodríguez is the Director of the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center.

    While on Capitol Hill to speak at the “Risk and Communication” congressional briefing [see  photo at above] Rodríguez met with Rep. Patrick Kennedy Jr.’s (D-RI) staff member Michael Barnett [left] to discuss  proposed legislation pertaining to community reaction to disasters and crises.