This article, originally posted 2 August 2011, was updated on 11 March 2013 to reflect a staffing change.
Researchers searching for ways to be effective ambassadors for U.S. science policy—and to prevent crippling cuts to the federal R&D budget—must learn the challenges facing Congress in order to become successful advocates, according to a guide published by AAAS.
Working with Congress: A Scientist’s Guide to Policy, produced by the AAAS Office of Government Relations, provides detailed information on congressional procedures and history. Now in its third edition, the guide emphasizes practical advice on developing and maintaining constructive relationships with lawmakers, their staff members, and other science policy advisers in Washington, D.C.
The guide, which is being used in university classrooms and in scientific society training sessions, was updated to reflect how technology and social media in particular are changing communication with policy makers. It was co-authored by Joanne Carney, director of the AAAS Office of Government Relations, and Kasey White, a former project director for the Association.
“We talk about the importance of using electronic communications much more than paper, especially since new security measures mean that letters can take up to three weeks to reach a congressional office,” White explained. “We also provide information on how scientists can glean information about a representative or senator’s policy positions from social media such as Facebook and Twitter.”
Kasey White | Photo for AAAS by Amy Maxmen
White said the updated version still contains its popular “Top Ten” list of rules for working with Congress—which include learning more about the legislative process so that communication comes at a timely and influential point, and showing support for science as a way to meet national and local goals.
“We used AAAS’s Working with Congress for our summer policy colloquium because it gives a concise but detailed road map to working with people and policy makers on the Hill,” said Caitlin Buzzas, a policy associate at the American Meteorological Society. “It is a great source for anyone, not just scientists wanting to know how to communicate effectively with Congress.”
Added Carney: “With Congress looking for ways to reduce the deficit by decreasing discretionary spending, now more than ever it is critical for scientists to communicate to policymakers on why R&D is a crucial investment and why their research matters.”
George DeBoer | Photo by Earl Lane
Two other recent publications examine the intersection between public policy and science education:
- The Role of Public Policy in K-12 Science Education explores the influence of science education researchers on federal, state, and local education policy. Edited by George DeBoer, deputy director of AAAS’s Project 2061 science literacy initiative, the volume “demystifies the policy process,” said Project 2061 Communications Director Mary Koppel, “and demonstrates the impacts of policy on students, teachers, and their classrooms.” DeBoer’s introductory chapter is available on Google Books.
- Measuring Diversity: An Evaluation Guide for STEM Graduate Program Leaders was developed by AAAS Education and Human Resources and the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate. The guide is a resource for universities to evaluate their programs to recruit and retain minority graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Order AAAS’s Working with Congress: A Scientist’s Guide to Policy
Order The Role of Public Policy in K-12 Science Education from Information Age Publishing.