Around theWorld France Hopes Citizens’ Panel Can Reduce Vaccine Skepticism All across Europe, coronavirus vaccines are in scarce supply. But in France, they are also surprisingly unwanted: Recent polls suggest just 57 percent of the country intends to get vaccinated. Polling from December 2020 shows France fifth out of 32 nations for vaccine antipathy. With persistent, world-leading rates of vaccine skepticism, France is adopting a new tactic to boost trust: A 35-member citizens’ vaccine panel, built from a random but demographi- cally representative slice of the country, to steer government strategy on COVID-19 vaccinations. The panel is one of an increasing number of citizen assemblies that have been set up across Europe to grapple with thorny questions at the intersection of science and society. The new vaccine panel is designed to be more than an ad hoc gathering. Its members match French society by age and edu- cation level and include a representative contingent of people with skeptical views of vaccines. Run by the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), an assembly of organiza- tions from civil society, the panel can call for presentations by any experts it wants, and it will remain in business until the end of the vaccination campaign. Even without the efforts of the vaccine panel, French sen- timent about vaccines appears to have shifted, at least for
COVID-19. The latest figure for the proportion who intend to get vaccinated, 57 percent, is 17 points higher than it was in December 2020, according to an Ipsos poll. UK Announces NewAdvanced Research and Invention Agency In an effort to reinvigorate the United Kingdom’s research and development endeavors, the government announced the creation of an independent, scientist-led funder named the Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA) on February 19. The program, modeled in a similar vein to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), goal of ARIA is to take on “high-risk, high-reward” projects that are largely unencumbered by the bureaucratic interference and finicky grant procedures of traditional research projects. The United Kingdom has an annual research and development budget of around £14.6 billion. To start, ARIA will receive £800 million total over the next four years. In comparison, the United States allocates around $3.5 billion to DARPA each year. This disparity has drawn some skepticism over what can reasonably be expected from ARIA. The UK government will be recruiting scientists at the top of their fields and it will be up to these experts — and not politi- cians — to guide ARIA’s projects forward. The goal is to have the new agency up and running by next year.
Webinar 3: Evidence-Based Approaches to Improve Your Teaching – Designing Assessments April 12, 2021, 12:00 PM– 1:30 PMUSA Eastern The next webinar in the series will focus on designing assessment tools. The guest speaker will be Dawn Meredith, developer of curricular materials for the reform of the introductory physics course for life science students and seed contributor to the Living Physics Portal (www.livingphysicsportal.org). The series seeks to help attendees to become more effective in their teaching of biophysics, while valuing diversity and equity. The webinar is free, but registration is required at www.thebiophysicist.org.
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