The Council's major educational program, the annual New Horizons in Science briefing, now in its 52nd year, is designed to give science writers a leg up on their future. Each year 20 or more top-rank researchers are invited to report on seminal advances in a wide array of scientific disciplines. The intent is to provide writers the background and perspective necessary to understand and interpret innovative research and its potential societal impact months (sometimes years) before they make headlines. Scientists are carefully selected for their ability to explain complex concepts and ideas in readily accessible terms.
Since its inception in 1963, New Horizons has amassed an enviable record of highlighting a long list of developments that have gone on to become major stories. Among them: climate change; nanotechnology; genetic engineering and genome-based personal medicine; stem cells; embryo transfer; dark matter and dark energy; monoclonal antibodies; buckyballs and buckytubes; neutrino mass; RNA interference; neuroimaging; and experimental economics.
New Horizons is a movable feast; each year the two-day briefing is hosted by a different academic institution. Recent hosts include Stanford University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Yale University and School of Medicine, the Triangle Universities Center for Advanced Studies Inc. in North Carolina's Research Triangle and the University of Florida.
In 2005, the National Association of Science Writers elected to hold its annual professional-development workshops in league with New Horizons. The tandem meetings have proved highly complementary and synergistic, with the how-to workshops providing a series of in-depth panels and presentations aimed at enhancing story-telling and marketing skills and the New Horizons offering the raw material upon which to exercise those skills -- i.e., what to do with the how-tos. Beginning in 2014, the New Horizons program will feature "crossover" sessions emphasizing dialogue between scientists and science writers.