SRHRL Past Projects: Workshop on Advocacy in Science

AAAS was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to convene a two-day invitational workshop to explore issues related to advocacy in science. The workshop was held on October 17-18, 2011 at AAAS. Many of today’s critical public policy decisions have strong science underpinnings (e.g., climate change and embryonic stem cell research), and policy makers could, and often do, benefit from scientists’ expertise. However, what role, if any, scientists should play as advocates for specific policies is a matter of heated debate both inside the scientific community and in society more generally. Increasingly, scientists are viewed as going beyond merely offering scientific opinions, and instead taking on an advocacy role in policy deliberations, a role that has important implications for the relationship between science and society as well as for public policy decisions.

This workshop was an interdisciplinary effort to examine the definition, contexts and parameters of advocacy as it might be applied to scientists in the policy arena. Participants discussed the normative aspects of such advocacy, including what it means to engage in “responsible advocacy,” the risks and benefits of advocacy for scientists and society, the ethical implications of undertaking various forms advocacy, and the need for resources and education on advocacy for scientists, students, and professional societies. Participants were drawn from a wide range of disciplines, institutional affiliations, backgrounds and perspectives. 

The Workshop was partially supported with funds from the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1052877.


Agenda Topics

  • Advocacy in Science: What is it? How is it done? How does it affect and how is it affected by our political and scientific institutions? Speaker: Daniel Sarewitz, Ph.D., Professor of Science and Society and Co-Director, Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes, Arizona State University
  • Responsible Advocacy: What are the risks and benefits of advocacy for scientists and society, and what might it mean to engage in “responsible advocacy”? Speaker: Nicholas Steneck, Ph.D., Director, Research Ethics and Integrity Program, University of Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, and Professor Emeritus of History, University of Michigan
  • Researching Advocacy: What do we need to know and how do we learn it in order to describe what advocacy in science “looks like”? Speaker: Joan Sieber, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics (JERHRE), and Professor Emeritus of Psychology, California State University, East Bay
  • What role(s) do/should scientific societies play related to advocacy? Remarks by Glenn Ruskin, ACS, Steve Pierson, ASA, and Janet Rachlow, University of Idaho
  • Should the topic of advocacy be part of a scientist’s training? What should scientists and students know about advocacy and its relation to their careers? What approaches might be effective in teaching about “responsible advocacy”? Remarks by Ruth Krulfeld, George Washington University, Melanie Roberts, Forum on Science, Ethics and Policy, and Jason Yang, University of Virginia

Workshop Papers

The following papers were commissioned as background materials for the AAAS Workshop on Advocacy in Science.

Science Advocacy is an Institutional Issue, Not an Individual One

Responsible Advocacy in Science: Standards, Benefits, and Risks


Workshop Participants

Kathy Barker
Independent Science Writer

Steven Benner
Distinguished Fellow
Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution

Mark Brown
Associate Professor
Department of Government
California State University, Sacramento

Dominique Brossard
Department of Life Sciences Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Rebecca Carlson
Program Assistant
Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
AAAS

Mark S. Frankel
Director
Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
AAAS

David Goldston
Director, Government Affairs
Natural Resources Defense Council

Jean Goodwin
Associate Professor
Department of English
Iowa State University

Gigi Gronvall
Senior Associate
Center for Biosecurity
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Susan Haack
Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Law
University of Miami

Steven Hamburg
Chief Scientist
Environmental Defense Fund

Ruth Krulfeld
Professor Emeritus
Departments of Anthropology, International Affairs, and Human Sciences
George Washington University

Denise Lach
Professor of Sociology
Oregon State University

Mark A. Largent
Associate Professor
James Madison College
Michigan State University

Mathew (Willy) Lensch
Principal Faculty and Faculty Advisor for Education
Harvard Stem Cell Institute

Gabrielle Long
Senior Advisor, Advanced Photon Source
Argonne National Laboratory

Joseph Perpich
President, JGPerpich, LLC

Steve Pierson
Director of Science Policy
American Statistical Association

Janet Rachlow
Associate Professor
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
University of Idaho

David Rejeski
Director, Science and Technology
Innovation Program
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Melanie Roberts
National Coordinator, Forum on Science, Ethics and Policy

Deborah Runkle
Senior Program Associate
Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
AAAS

Glenn S. Ruskin
Director, Office of Public Affairs
American Chemical Society

Dan Sarewitz
Co-Director, Center for Science, Policy
and Outcomes
Arizona State University

Dietram Scheufele
John E. Ross Professor of Science Communication
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Joan Sieber
Professor Emeritus
Department of Psychology
California State University, East Bay

Nick Steneck
Director, Research Ethics and Integrity Program
Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research

Douglas L. Weed
Founder, DLW Consulting Services, LLC

Jason Yang
Ph.D. Candidate
Biomedical Engineering
University of Virginia