Student Pugwash USA is an umbrella organization promoting education, outreach, and activism around ethical issues and concerns in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). We cover topical issues in each field, how work in these fields takes place, and how institutions, governments, and the general public understand and make decisions about applications in these areas.
Our portfolio is broad and our mission is inclusive. We're as interested in how future developments in medical applications of CRISPR should be steered, as we are about diversity amongst those scientists working in the field, or economic justice regarding who can access such treatments. We have particular focus on issues that can have an existential impact on humanity or civilization: weapons of mass destruction, climate change, and technologies like genetic engineering, nanotechnology, or artificial intelligence, which may add to this list of threats in the 21st century to seeing the 22nd. Our programs are geared both for professionals and pre-professionals in these areas, as well as members of the general public wishing to become more knowledgeable and have a voice in how these issues affect their communities.
Because of our broad umbrella of topic areas, it's common for the same members to be experts providing information at some events, and the interested laypeople at others. Likewise, we welcome new members and attendees at every level of expertise, with the caveat that misinformation is always left at the door. We encourage debate and discussion in those areas of research where the science is not yet settled, but strongly-held opinions not backed by research do not get presented. For example, in the 1980s we hosted panel debates on whether climate change was caused by human activities; now that topic is not suitable for our venues, but we certainly hold further debates about which climate change models are most accurate, or what actions we should take as a result.
Student Pugwash USA is part of the worldwide Pugwash Movement, and was founded after the model of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, recipients of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize.