Posted by: Administrator | 11/09/2009

Tony Gardiner: “Do we realy need a single voice?”

In the last 15 years we have learned how to make cooperation work up to a point; though numerous recent decisions show how far we still have to go to make a real impact. (Has anyone objected to the fact that for the first time in ~100 years we no longer have a Ministry with the word “Education” in its title?)

However, having spent the last 15 years seeking to influence policy in other areas, I find the arguments in favour of “combining in order to speak with a single voice” totally unconvincing in present circumstances. Indeed, given the change in the make-up of the British mathematical community over the last 15 years, my first observation would be that we have much work to do to ensure that, on most issues relating to mathematics, we know what would constitute “a single voice” for *traditional* LMS members.

Large organisations may speak with a single voice; but they may also have difficulty agreeing what it should say. And if they insist on “a single voice” (as the Royal Society did with “balanced science” in 1988/9), they may fail the community they exist to represent (as the RS probably now recognises in the case of “balanced science”, though it still cannot quite get ITS act together now that it is faced instead
with “Science for the 21st centrury”).

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