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Policy Fellowships Are Taking Root Well Beyond Washington

It’s been a good season for policy fellowships. While AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships (STPF) operate at the federal level, there are a handful of fellowship programs that operate at other levels of government, and also abroad. California, Massachusetts and Connecticut have programs in place to bring scientists to government and ASEAN, in partnership with the US government, launched the ASEAN Science and Technology Fellowship. Two more state-level programs were launched in the past half year: New Jersey in November and Idaho last month.

All of these fellowships were modeled in part on the STPF program.

Capitol dome in Boise, Idaho. | Pixabay

Policy fellowship programs don’t pop up overnight and often entail years of planning. The Idaho Science and Technology Policy Fellowship (ISTPF) was three years from seed to root and is managed by Katherine Himes (2011-15 AAAS STPF Executive Branch Fellow with a background in neuroscience). Led by the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research at the University of Idaho in collaboration with Boise State University and Idaho State University, the nonpartisan program connects doctoral-level scientists and engineers with the development and implementation of Idaho state policy.

“We are thrilled to cultivate opportunities for scientists and engineers to connect their knowledge and skills to address pressing challenges facing Idaho and support state government,” said McClure Center Director Himes.

The first ISTPF cohort will begin their fellowship in August of next year and will work on issues such as water, energy, public health and economic development. One of the aims of the program is to be a mechanism for the state to retain the professional talent being cultivated in Idaho universities.

With a CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows planning grant funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Simons Foundation, Jessica Marks (2017-19 STPF Executive Branch Fellow with a background in biomedical science) and Gina Schatteman (2008-10 AAAS STPF Executive Branch Fellow with a background in chemistry) conducted an in-depth landscape analysis to inform how the program could be structured. They explored issues including where the program’s nonpartisan “home” could be, placement opportunities, and policy areas of focus.

“When I came to the University of Idaho to direct the McClure Center in 2017, I worked with Corey Cook, dean of the School of Public Service at Boise State University, to explore opportunities to partner,” said Himes. “We recommended that all three research universities in Idaho be involved.”

Senior graduate and professional students, postdoctoral fellows, and new faculty at the three universities will be able to participate in the orientation program and monthly professional development activities. Himes also hopes to develop a science policy “micro-credential” certificate.

“I’m also glad to say that we have the leadership of another STPF alumna, Noël Bakhtian (2013-15 AAAS STPF Executive Branch Fellow with a background in engineering), who will serve as advisory board chair,” said Himes.


Kat Song

Communications & Digital Strategy Director

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