Science and the Quality of Life

How Can Rigorous Scientific Research Impact Policy, Attitudes, and Behaviors?

Claremont Graduate University Commencement Forum, May 11, 2007

Claremont Graduate University’s Commencement Forum will address the central issues facing scientists today: When we take on important social problems, what can we do that will make a real and sustainable difference? How do we know what works? Currently, what are the biggest challenges to implementing scientifically sound practices?

This event was open to the public.

Galileo Hall
Behind the Olin Science Center
1250 N. Dartmouth Ave.
Claremont CA 91711


1:30 Introductory Comments:

  • Dean Stewart I. Donaldson, School of Social Science, Policy & Evaluation, Claremont Graduate University

1:45 – Introduction of the Speakers:

  • Kathy Pezdek, Division of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University

1:45-4:15 – Talks by our Panelists (see below for bios)

  • Alan Leshner, “The Changing Climate of Science in Society”
  • Diane Halpern, “Using social science research to inform public policy: Tower of Babel or Bridge Over Troubled Water?”
  • Richard Atkinson, “What It Took to Change the SAT”
  • Faye Wattleton “Using Research to Persuade Policy: A Personal Account From 30 Years of Fighting for Women’s Rights”

4:15 – Question and Answer Session with the Audience

5:00 Wine and Cheese Reception
at the CGU Art Galleries, 251 E. 10th St.


Each of the panelists tackling this question has had a major role in utilizing science to improve the quality of life, but each offers a different perspectives on how this is best achieved.  Links to each speaker’s homepage may be viewed by clicking on their name or photo.

Richard Atkinson (Commencement Speaker and 2007 Honorary Degree Recipient)
An internationally respected scholar and scientist, Richard Atkinson’s eight-year tenure as President of the University of California System was marked by innovative approaches to admissions and outreach, research initiatives to accelerate the University’s contributions to the state’s economy, and a challenge to the country’s most widely used admissions examination–the SAT 1–that paved the way to major changes in the way millions of America’s youth will be tested for college admissions. Atkinson’s scientific contributions have resulted in election to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Education, and the American Philosophical Society. President Carter appointed Atkinson Director of the National Science Foundation, and he is past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former chair of the Association of American Universities. He also has served as Chancellor for UC San Diego and was a long-standing faculty member at Stanford University.

Diane Halpern
Diane Halpern is the Director of The Berger Institute for Work, Family, and Children at Claremont McKenna College, and a past president of both the American Psychological Association and the Western Psychological Association. The Berger Institute educates students, scholars, law-makers, and the community about a wide range of work and family issues including the effects of changing demographics and diversity on work-family balance, the business case for family-friendly workplaces, poverty issues for working families, and the relationships among stress, health, and child development. These issues are approached from a number of disciplines including psychology, economics, sociology, and public policy. Among many other distinctions, Dr. Halpern has an Honorary Doctorate from Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles and a Distinguished Teaching award from APA; was named an Eminent Woman in Psychology by APA in 1998; and was the first woman to be award APA’s Distinguished Career Contributions to Education and Training.

Alan Leshner (2007 Honorary Degree Recipient)
Alan Leshner has been Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Executive Publisher of the journal Science since December 2001.  AAAS was founded in 1848 and is the world’s largest, multi-disciplinary scientific and engineering society. Dr. Leshner was Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) from 1994-2001. One of the scientific institutes of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, NIDA supports over 85% of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. Before becoming Director of NIDA, Dr. Leshner had been the Deputy Director and Acting Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). He went to NIMH from the National Science Foundation (NSF), where he held a variety of senior positions, focusing on basic research in the biological, behavioral and social sciences, science policy and science education.

Faye Wattleton (2007 Honorary Degree Recipient)
Faye Wattleton is co-founder and president for the Center for the Advancement of Women (CFAW), an independent, women focused, national opinion research, education and policy advocacy corporation. CFAW conducts and sponsors research to identify and understand issues and experiences important to women’s daily lives. CFAW packages its research, to shape attitudes, opinions and public policy through broad based communications platforms. Progress & Perils, CFAW’s landmark report on the attitudes of 21st Century women has received national and international acclaim and broad media coverage. The organization has also been recognized for its innovative research techniques, including interpretive and trend analysis.From 1978 to 1992, as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) Ms. Wattleton played a leading role in defining the national debate over reproductive rights and health, and in shaping family planning policies and programs around the world. She was the youngest person and first woman named to the presidency of the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary women’s reproductive health provider. Under her leadership, PPFA grew to become the nation’s seventh largest charitable organization, providing medical and educational services to four million Americans each year, through 170 affiliates, operating in 49 states and the District of Columbia and in developing nations through its international division, Family Planning International Assistance.  Ms. Wattleton was a 1993 inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Lawrence Erlbaum (2007 Honorary Degree Recipient)
Influential publisher Lawrence Erlbaum has been a force in the Social Sciences since founding Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishing in 1973. Erlbaum is well-known and widely respected for choosing quality research to publish, often against the grain of popular trends. For example, contrary to the (then-current) belief that intelligence measurements are largely determined by genetics, Erlbaum published Leon J. Kamin’s controversial The Science and Politics of IQ, a book which in hindsight was clearly ahead of its time. In the words of George Mandler, Professor of Psychology at UC, San Diego, “Psychology is unlikely ever to know a publisher who cares more about our field and its practitioners.”Update, May 10, 2007 – Lawrence Erlbaum has had to withdraw from the panel due to illness.  The faculty and staff of Claremont Graduate University wish him all the best for a speedy recovery.

Panel Moderators:

  • William Crano
  • Kathy Pezdek

For more information, call (909) 607-9016.