The Carl Sagan Discovery CenterThe Carl Sagan Foundation chose as its inaugural project, to build The Carl Sagan Discovery Center at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City. Our partner in this project is The Children's Health Fund, a non-profit organization that is second only to the federal government in providing health care to the under-served children of the United States. When completed next fall, it will not only be the first pediatric hospital to be built in the Bronx, but, also, the first children's hospital anywhere that incorporates the consciousness made possible by science into both its design and its program of family-centered care. Perhaps, most significantly, no child residing in the area the hospital serves will be turned away for lack of funds or insurance.
Ann Druyan worked closely with Irwin Redlener, MD, longtime friend of both her and Carl's and president of the new Children's Hospital - as well as some of America's esteemed scientists, science educators and artists to design a place that conveys something of the great story of cosmic evolution.
The hospital has been built on the highest elevation in the Greater New York City Area. Most of the patient rooms will have spectacular views of the surrounding topography; the Palisades of New Jersey, the Hudson and East Rivers and more. When the shade is pulled down over the big picture windows, you will see the exact same view as it would have looked a hundred million years ago.
The Sagan Center will be integrated throughout the hospital - from the lobby and patient rooms, to the information technologies. Every bed will have a computer and a 42" high-definition wall-mounted flat screen monitor. Bonds have been forged with local scientific institutions to bring inspired teachers as well as permanent staff to show the kids and the families the ropes of exploration. We don't envision this hospital as a worshipful temple of science or technology - but rather a place that communicates the wonder of the glorious continuity revealed by science and opens new pathways for the people it will serve.
Carl died on December 20, 1996, after waging a courageous battle for his life that included three harrowing bone marrow transplants. There were many times when it troubled him that he was getting the best medical treatment on Earth by virtue of his renown. Many members of the medical staff remarked that it was something he wrote or said that had inspired them to pursue a scientific career. Carl thought of all people who had life-threatening diseases who would be denied the care he was receiving and he wrote:
"When I realize what extraordinary health care I have received in these many months of illness, I know what is possible. When I think of how many children do not have access to even the most basic of health services, it breaks my heart."
Carl's forty year campaign for public science education was rooted in his dream of a wise and just society. Before anyone else, he recognized that a society wholly dependent on science and high technology could not hope to become a democracy if only a fortunate few possess the secrets of science's methods, laws and language. There are 400,000 children in the Bronx, a place both medically and educationally under-served.
Mission StatementThe Carl Sagan Foundation is a non-profit entity established to continue the planet-wide campaign of public science education that was so brilliantly conducted by its namesake throughout his career.
It seeks to further public understanding of the goals, methods and findings of science; to identify and challenge the misuse of science and high technology; to inspire the young to think critically and to consider career pathways in science. It sees its mission most urgently in those communities where exposure to science is likely to be minimal.
Our society is increasingly dependent on science and high technology. We believe that preserving and enhancing its democratic nature requires a citizenry of informed decision-makers. The Carl Sagan Foundation, through its sponsorship of innovative approaches, institutions and individuals, aspires to help meet this pressing need.
The inaugural project of The Carl Sagan Foundation is The Carl Sagan Discovery Center at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, New York.
The Carl Sagan Discovery Center will be the nation's first science learning initiative developed in conjunction with a major children's health care system, and housed within the walls of a children's hospital. The defining philosophy of The Children's Hospital at Montefiore will be a commitment to the principles of Family Centered Care - the belief that the well being of children is dependent upon a respectful, collaborative partnership between families and the health care provider. The Carl Sagan Discovery Center will be a vital staging ground to advance the concept of family centered care at Montefiore, by empowering the young patients and their families with knowledge not only about their own health, but of the world and the universe around them.