Grants Will Give Developing World Access to Scientific Research

Two grants totaling $500,000 will support Yale University participation in an international consortium to make prestigious scientific journals in the environment sciences available online to the developing world at little or no cost.

Two grants totaling $500,000 will support Yale University participation in an international consortium to make prestigious scientific journals in the environment sciences available online to the developing world at little or no cost.

Paul Walberg, Oswald Schmitz and Kimberly Parker
photo by M.Marsland

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation gave $250,000 to Yale to help establish Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE). A digital internet library for developing countries, OARE, will provide access to peer-reviewed scientific literature of leading international publishing houses. Organizations eligible to use OARE include approximately 1,000 public, nonprofit institutions in more than 100 underdeveloped nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. Literature in environmental chemistry, economics, law and policy, and other environmental subjects such as botany, conservation biology, ecology and zoology will be available through a portal presented in world languages, including Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Yale’s OARE activities will be directed by Oswald Schmitz, professor of population and community ecology and associate dean of academic affairs for the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and Ann Okerson, associate university librarian for collections and international programs.

James Gustave Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies said, “Thanks to advances in information and communication technologies and the great generosity of many leading scientific publishers and foundations, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to provide environmental institutions in over 100 less-developed countries intellectual resources that we in the developed world take for granted.”

University Librarian Alice Prochaska added, “We are eager to work together to increase the ability of leading scientists in developing countries to conduct their own high-quality research and develop their own educational programs in the environmental sciences. Helping the world benefit from Yale’s wealth of expertise by extending access to information and resources is central to the library’s mission.”

Published in the United States and Europe under copyright and with annual subscription fees averaging $1,000, the prestigious journals in which a majority of scientific research is published are too costly for purchase in most developing nations. OARE will enable countries to build their own higher education programs in the environmental sciences, educate their own leaders, conduct their own research, publish their own scientific findings and disseminate information to policy makers and the public.

Next year in the first phase of the project’s implementation, OARE will be offered to users in 70 developing nations with a per capita gross national product (GNP) of $1,000 or less. In the project’s second phase, approximately 45 more countries with GNP per capita between $1,000 and $3,000 will be enrolled.

Yale will develop OARE in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, Cornell University and leading scientific publishers around the world. Yale will create software for OARE’s secure internet portal, organize and update its database of scientific literature, recruit publishers to the consortium, and develop partnerships between the consortium and American and European institutions to expand internet connectivity and offer training.

Paul-Bendiks Walberg, a recent graduate of the Yale School of Management and Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and Kimberly Parker, head of the university library’s electronic collections, conceived the OARE project. The project is inspired by the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative, a World Heath Organization program in which Yale has played a leading role and that has strengthened public health services in developing countries by providing access to research in the medical sciences.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation based in Menlo Park, Calif., supports activities in education, the environment, global development, the performing arts and population. The MacArthur Foundation, which has offices worldwide, is dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition. The OARE organizers can be contacted directly. Paul Walberg, or 203-214-2968; Kimberly Parker, or 203-432-0067.

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