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MIT students write voter's guide to science and technology issues

Daniel Collins
Daniel Collins
Photo courtesy / Daniel Collins

An MIT graduate student is the creative force behind a new voter's guide to the science and technology policies at stake in the upcoming presidential election.

Daniel Collins, a Ph.D. student in civil and environmental engineering, created the project for Student Pugwash USA, which produced the online guide to highlight the importance of science and technology in the political decisions voters will face in November. The MIT Student Pugwash team, including the group's president Chris Sequeira, wrote the guide this summer.

Drawing from government records, campaign statements and media reports, the guide provides backgrounds on the candidates' positions and records on a variety of issues, including bioterrorism, stem cell research and renewable energy. It will be expanded and updated as the elections near.

Collins sees the guide as an opportunity to get voters, particularly students, to talk about the issues and become active in the democratic process. He sees Student Pugwash USA as the ideal group to offer the resource, being a non-partisan group that has raised ethical and political awareness of science and technology for 25 years.

"We advocate neither a party nor a platform," said Collins, a New Zealand citizen who cannot vote for the American president. "We hope people will become better informed on the issues important to them. We also hope that people will take more of an interest in issues they don't usually think about and make their decisions based on the best available information. It's an investment well beyond these elections."

The University of Virginia Student Pugwash chapter will host a conference on the guide this fall.

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A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 15, 2004 (download PDF).

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