COPUS is constantly evolving as an understanding of the needs and the values of the community become more clearly understood.
The concept of COPUS originated in 2006 from a growing concern about the state of science in America. A small but diverse group of people came together to discuss strategies for addressing these concerns and for re-engaging the public in science. A workshop, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and hosted by the University of California Museum of Paleontology, was held in Berkeley, CA, January 25-27, 2006 to initiate discussions on the creation of a national effort that would focus on improving the public understanding of and engagement in science.
Over a 2-year period, COPUS remained grassroots in nature by choice, and continued to attract like-minded individuals and organizations interested in sharing ideas focusing on public engagement in science. A website was launched that provided organizations the opportunity to register as a participant in COPUS resulting in the formal recognition of the COPUS network.Activities began to coalesce regionally and thematically, and COPUS evolved into a tiered structure of participation and leadership. Additional funding by NSF allowed for a meeting of the newly formed regional hubs and the development of a Hub Toolkit. The number of COPUS hubs expanded to 21 areas within the US by the end of 2009.
In order to increase interest in the concept of COPUS, to provide a rallying point for its participants, and to celebrate science, COPUS initiated the highly successful Year of Science 2009. YoS09 was a national, year-long, grassroots celebration of science shining the spotlight on "How We Know What We Know." Activities and events were led by a wide variety of scientific organizations under the umbrella of COPUS. Each month, we focused on a particular disciplinary theme of science, launching a dynamic and interactive website and hosting a variety of national contests and activities. The content for the Year of Science Web site was assembled through contributions from 90 representative organizations from the scientific community. This year truly pulled together diverse organizations to celebrate what science is, why it matters, and who scientists are. Support for YoS09 came from a variety of sponsors, in particular The Whitman Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation with in-kind support from the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the University of California Museum of Paleontology.
With funding from The Whitman Institute, a meeting of a core group of highly active COPUS individuals took place in Berkeley, CA in March 2010. The next phases of COPUS are slowly evolving. Bookmark the COPUS homepage and check back often for new developments and opportunities to participate in your region!
Phase V - The evolution of the COPUS unconferences and the COPUS Corps The small group that met in Berkeley participated in an incredibly rewarding experience and the group wanted to expand it to a much larger number of COPUSethic members. Also, with the loss of our dear friend Paul Shin, came the Shin award. Recognizing a unique opportunity, the Whitman Institute once again generously provided funding to host the first COPUS unconference. This 2.5 day retreat of participant-generated discussions at the Biosphere in Arizona brought XX doers together to share their efforts, plot and plan new ones, and discuss the challenges and approaches to engaging the public in science. Out of this grew the COPUS Corps; 50 dedicated members, many of whom attended a second unconference in 2013 at Asilomar in CA. Out of this meeting came the desire to be a bit more proactive as a grassroots organization.
Phase VI - Developing the 2015 COPUS celebration Since the unconference in Asilomar, the COPUS Corps has been populating a Wiki with a range of efforts centered around different target audiences like to facilitate during 2015. Further refinement of such aweseomness is the central focus of the 2014 unconference taking place at the Sevilleta research facility in New Mexico.