Student Pugwash USA

Our mission: Empower and equip students and young professionals to identify, critically analyze, and shape
the ethical, policy, and societal dimensions of science and technology.

Student Pugwash USA promotes social responsibility in science and technology through an international network of students, professionals, academics, and activists. Through programs such as regional and university chapters, nationwide conferences and local events, social functions and online networking, we promote scientific discussion, reasoned debate, and understanding among the general public, and generate resources that are then dedicated to student programs and outreach.

We prepare science, technology, and policy students and recent graduates to make social responsibility a guiding focus of their academic and professional endeavors by:
  • Examining the societal impacts of science and technology;
  • Creating open and objective forums for debate;
  • Fostering the exchange of ideas among diverse communities;
  • Exploring solutions to current dilemmas in science and technology;
  • Cultivating the analytical skills needed to address future challenges; and
  • Promoting the methods of science, and the validity of research to inform policy and planning, in goverments, civil society, and private enterprise.

Student Pugwash is guided by a respect for diverse perspectives and, as such, does not adopt advocacy positions on individual issues. However, we require all of our discussions and events to be scientific and evidence-based. For example, while we have promoted debates over climate change for over 30 years, speakers and audience discussion has always been based on research and factual information; thirty years ago we held events debating the pace of change and its root causes, but today we focus on cutting-edge research where a debate remains, or the very active discussion of what steps to take to ameliorate the problem.
Student Pugwash USA was founded in 1979 with the fundamental belief that young people play a vital role in determining the socially responsible application of science and technology, and that to make effective change in the future, students in every field, not only science majors, need training in scientific and technological research, logic, and methods of activism and volunteer organizing. We create informed citizens, and equally importantly we strive to encourage students to see themselves as leaders, on their campuses and throughout their lives, within our organization and in their other work.

In 1955, Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, and other eminent scientists issued a manifesto urging scientists to "think in a new way" about their moral responsibilities in the nuclear age. In 1957, the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs—our spiritual inspiration and the source of our name—was held in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, bringing together some of the greatest scientific minds of their time to address nuclear weapons issues and the social responsibility of scientists. We strive to convene the next generation of scientists and laypeople around today's parallel issues, across every dimension of scientific and technological research that impacts society now, or will in the future. We focus not only on what's happening today, but also the anticipated issues of 2040 and beyond.

Joseph Rotblat, co-founder of the Pugwash Conferences, and co-recipient with them of the Nobel Peace Prize, said this in his Nobel acceptance speech, "Remember Your Humanity:"

The time has come to formulate guidelines for the ethical conduct of scientists. This would be particularly valuable for young scientists when they embark on a scientific career. The US Student Pugwash Group has taken up this idea—and that is very heartening. At a time when science plays such a powerful role in the life of society, when the destiny of the whole of mankind may hinge on the results of scientific research, it is incumbent on all scientists to be fully conscious of that role, and conduct themselves accordingly. I appeal to my fellow scientists to remember their responsibility to humanity.