SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
 
  August 2010
Volume 11 Issue 8
 

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John Toll, Editor-in-chief

Welcome to the new Globe

by John Toll, Editor-in-Chief

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Globe!  As most of you know, the Globe ended its run as a hard copy newsletter last October, with the promise that it would relaunch in 2010 as a new, electronic publication.  Here it is! 

A lot has happened since October.  In February, SETAC launched a search for a new Globe Editor in Chief.  I was named to that post in April and I am really looking forward to working with the SETAC community to make the new Globe something we will all be proud of.  I want to take the opportunity of the relaunch to tell you something about why I chose to get involved with the Globe and what I and the Society’s leadership want to do with it. 

In brief, the Globe is here to serve SETAC’s advisory groups, publications, workshops and meetings, eKnowledge program, outreach initiatives and governance. Our editorial policy will reflect a move to greater interdisciplinary science and discussion within SETAC, and the perspective that effective environmental problem solving requires understanding how people from other disciplines and world views think about the environmental problems one’s trying to solve.

If you know me, then you probably know that my background’s a little bit different.  My B.S. is in chemical engineering, but I knew going in that I was not going to be a chemical engineer.  After that came a stint as a wilderness educator and graduate school.  For grad school I picked a program that fit my conviction that multi-disciplinary technical expertise –in both the social and decision sciences and the natural sciences – plus meaningful engagement with stakeholders, is essential for solving environmental problems.  So, I did my doctorate in Engineering & Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, where I learned that trying to meld together the essential elements of people’s varied world views into models (ways of thinking) that are useful for environmental problem solving is challenging, important and, on a good day, a whole lot of fun.

 That is what I have been trying to do for the past 25 years, first in academia, and for the past 17 years in consulting.  And that is what we want to do with the Globe.  If we are going to be effective then we need to understand how people from other disciplines and world views think about the environmental problems we are trying to solve.  For starters, that means setting aside our own lens and trying to see through theirs.  And we are seeing a clear move to greater interdisciplinary science and discussion within a global SETAC.  We want the Globe to facilitate this.  What this amounts to in practice is twofold:

  1. Something about the relationship between the subject (be it a meeting session topic, an AG initiative, a journal article, etc.) and SETAC’s mission will be strongly encouraged in every feature article that is published in the Globe. That mission is to support the development of principles and practices for protecting, enhancing and managing sustainable environmental quality and ecosystem integrity.

    So, for example, one might address whether the work is overcoming incorrect principles or bad practices. Is it modernizing principles and practices that have outlived their usefulness? Is it transferring good principles and practices to new regions of the globe? Does it represent a paradigm shift that gives us a whole new way of looking at sustainability or ecosystem integrity? Is there a consensus that the work is taking us in the right direction vis-à-vis SETAC’s mission, or is that under debate? So, news and announcements will report on what, where and when, but for feature articles we will also be looking for how and why. Answering the how and why questions is essential to accomplishing SETAC’s mission.  Perhaps we do not do it as often or as well as we should.
  2. We will be encouraging multiple perspectives and tracking stories over the course of time. 

    So, for example, when a Pellston workshop is approved, we will attempt to cover it through a series of feature articles: starting with an article describing key elements of the approved workshop proposal, with articles offering opinions about how best to tackle the problem, articles describing white papers prepared for the workshop, and articles describing the outcome of the workshop. We will actively solicit articles both from workshop participants and from the broader SETAC membership. Again something about the relationship between the reported work and SETAC’s mission will be strongly encouraged in each of these articles. Whatever the source – be it an AG activity, a workshop theme, a meeting session track, a SETAC initiative, etc., the same principle will apply. We will seek a broad range of perspectives, and we will track stories over time.

Webster1 defines a crucible as a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development.  If we succeed in using Globe articles to develop and share our thoughts about the relationship between our work and SETAC’s mission, both globally and locally, and in capturing a wide range of perspectives over the lifecycle of a particular story, then the Globe will become a crucible for developing principles and practices that protect, enhance and manage sustainable environmental quality and ecosystem integrity. 

I invite you to use the Globe to its full potential to help serve SETAC’s mission.

The new Globe will be a monthly, e-mail publication containing SETAC news and features.  We will have some recurring bylines.  For example, you will find the first installment of a quarterly column by the Global Executive Director in this issue.  We are expecting recurring contributions from the AGs and Committees as well.  We will have regular features (e.g., highlighting selected papers from or broader topics from ET&C and IEAM) and we will be covering SETAC initiatives.  This inaugural issue contains an article on the new eKnowledge initiative, for example.  Annual meetings and workshops will be covered as well.  This inaugural issue contains an overview of the Guangzhou meeting and session track summaries by the five closing plenary speakers from the Seville meeting.  Subsequent issues will feature articles by session chairs on their individual sessions.  Thus, the Globe will be, as it has been before, a prominent source of information about SETAC activities, events and people. 

I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize some of the many people who’ve made the transition to the new Globe possible.

When I was appointed Editor-in-Chief my friend and colleague Nancy Musgrove was appointed Associate Editor. To the extent that we are successful with the new Globe, you can be sure that Nancy has been hard at work making it happen.

Once on board, Nancy and I had the great fortune to be met by a strong and knowledgeable team, led by SETAC Publications Manager Mimi Meredith, who has showed us the ropes and made us feel welcome. Outgoing Editor-in-Chief Carrie Claytor has gone out of her way to ensure a smooth transition, and SETAC President Jane Staveley and Global Executive Director Mike Mozur have guided us through the process of reinventing and now relaunching the Globe. Publications Advisory Council Chair Katie Barrett, Acting Chair Lorraine Maltby, members of the SETAC World Council and representatives of the Global Partners have been thoughtful critics and advisors, and supportive advocates for the new electronic Globe.

We are lucky to have the strong support of Publications Specialists Daniel Hatcher and Sabine Barrett, and IT Manager Jason Andersen. They are the wizards who will make the new electronic Globe happen, and they are a pleasure to work with.  If answering silly questions from people (like me) who know more about what they want to do than how to do it isn’t part of their job descriptions then it should be! 

I also want to acknowledge the North American and European Science Affairs Managers, Bruce Vigon and Katrien Arijs, who have helped us gather material for the new Globe. We will be working closely with them as we move forward.  After all, SETAC Science Affairs is really what the Globe is all about. 

Last but not least, I want to recognize the organizers and leaders of the SETAC Europe meeting in Seville and the SETAC Asia/Pacific meeting in Guangzhou. Many people have been generous with their time and indulgent of our inexperience as we have solicited articles from them.  You will see some of their bylines and articles in the second issue of the Globe.  Suffice it to say that we have had to build a lot of momentum to get the new Globe spinning, and we have done that in part by building on mistakes I have made as Editor-in-Chief in making requests of our early contributors.

Thanks to all of you for getting us to this point. Your contributions have been indispensable, your patience generous and your enthusiasm gratifying.

To the SETAC community as a whole, welcome back to the Globe. We hope you will enjoy reading it and that you will use it to advance your own efforts to develop principles and practices for protecting, enhancing and managing sustainable environmental quality and ecosystem integrity.

Contact information: Globe@setac.org or johnt@windwardenv.com

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