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Workshop on Advocacy in Science: Advocacy Initiatives

Scientific and Engineering Society Advocacy Initiatives

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Disciplinary societies not only represent the interests of individual members; they also have a broader role in promoting the advancement of science and its applications in service of society. Historically, these societies have acted as the custodian of the core values, accepted practices, and traditions of their disciplines. Societies are also an important source of professional norms, helping members navigate their interaction with each other and with society.

In the context of advocacy, the societies can eschew it entirely; they can advocate as an organization; and/or they can promote and facilitate advocacy among their members by providing practical and normative guidance. They may view themselves as objective sources of technical expertise to those who call on them, as well as “guardians” of the proper use of knowledge by society. They may be aggressive proponents of using science in societal decision-making, and be highly visible players in major policy debates. What they do, how, and why are undoubtedly the result of many factors.

For our work, we wanted to know what societies based in the U.S. were doing with regard to advocacy. Our preliminary research turned up a range of activities, or “initiatives,” from information about how to contact elected officials, to detailed talking points about research funding. Table 1 presents a short description of the advocacy initiatives of each society listed, while Table 2 presents web links to each society’s homepage and their advocacy initiatives. The lists are neither representative of the larger set of science and engineering societies in the U.S., nor comprehensive in describing their advocacy initiatives. Within the constraints of time and resources, we offer the lists simply as examples, without further generalization.

Table 1: List of Scientific Societies and their Advocacy Initiatives

American Anthropological Association (AAA) Committee on Public Policy
  • Internal Mission: Develop public policy expertise and enhance policy debate among anthropologists
  • External Mission: Enhance the effectiveness of AAA and anthropologists in working with policy makers; educating policy makers on issues relating to anthropology
American Chemical Society (ACS) Policy Division
  • Act4Chemistry: grassroots program for updating members on policy issues and facilitating contact with legislators
  • Advocacy Toolkit: How to Schedule a Meeting, Report Form for Visits with Lawmakers, etc.
  • ACS Policy Statements: seek to foster innovation through research and technology, strengthen science education and scientific workforce, advance science through openness and promote sustainability and science in public policy
American Educational Research Association (AERA) Educational Policy and Politics
  • Promoting the dissemination and practical application  of research results in the fields of education, psychology, statistics, sociology, history, economics, philosophy, anthropology, and political science
  • Mission: advance knowledge about education, promote research based policies to improve education and serve the public good
American Institute of Biology Sciences (AIBS) Public Policy
  • Resources: Policy Report, training programs, Communicating Science Primer, Washington Watch column
  • How to: communicate with Congress, sponsor a training program
  • Issues addressed: funding for the biosciences, supporting scientific collections, promoting 21st century biology, advocating for research policy, promoting education policy, advancing science workforce policy
American Meteorological Society (AMS) Policy Program
  • Programs: climate briefing series, summer policy colloquium, policy study series, congressional science fellowships
  • Goals: prepare scientists to contribute effectively to the policy process, keep policymakers abreast of scientific advances and their relevance, foster meaningful collaborations between scientists and policymakers
American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Public Policy Committee
  • Issues: federal funding of science, stem cells and cloning, creationism and intelligent design
  • Opportunities: Scientific Citizenship Guide, How to Interact with Your Representative
American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Public and Scientific Policy
  • Statements, reports, testimony and monthly newsletters issued
  • Contact Congress website section
  • Mission: reaching out to inform and influence public policy affecting the microbiological sciences, clinical microbiology and public health
American Physical Society (APS) Policy and Advocacy
  • Reports and studies, resources, fellowships
  • Issues: competitiveness and innovation, defense, education, energy and environment, research funding and visas
  • Advocacy Tools: action alerts, write congress, science coalitions, grassroots meetings, lobbying efforts
American Physiological Society Policy Action Center
  • Advocacy Resource Kits: Why become an advocate for science, tips for talking about the issues, how to contact Congress, research funding talking points
  • Science policy announcements, FAQ section on animal research, and general links on science advocacy by other groups
American Psychological Association (APA) Science Policy Office
  • Advocates in multiple areas to influence policy decisions that advance and preserve infrastructure of psychological science
  • Key areas: peer review, federal research spending, substance abuse, military and veterans issues
  • Public Policy Advocacy Network, Write to Congress forms, Congress Today updates
American Sociological Association (ASA) Public Affairs
  • Tips on communicating with policymakers, communicating to the media
American Statistical Association (ASA) Science Policy Programs
  • Increase the participation and visibility of the statistical profession
  • Signed letters, board statements, Amstat News Policy column
Association of American Geographers (AAG) Government Relations
  • Mission: advance geographic understanding;  encourage the application of geographic research in education, government and business
  • Ask a Geographer program: offers media, government agencies, teachers and students links to volunteer experts in geography to get more information about a particular topic
Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) Advocacy Division
  • Testimony on the Hill before House and Senate subcommittees
  • Links to all branches of government, with the relevant science and technology divisions
Ecological Society of America (ESA) Public Affairs Office
  • ESA letters, Capitol Hill briefings, congressional visits and participation in coalitions
  • Policy Resources: take action, contact help for Congress, link to AAAS Budget site
  • Rapid Response Team Experts
Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Policy Action Center
  • Comment on the FAS blogs, connect through social media
  • Issue briefs- nonpartisan research for policymakers, government officials, academics and the general public
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Policy and Government Affairs
  • Mission: communicating the views of the biomedical research community to Congress, federal agencies and advocacy partners
  • E-action list, Washington update, Info and Advocacy Center, social media
Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS) Advocacy Division
  • Public statements issued by the board in support of behavioral and brain science
  • Take Action: How to and links to contact elected representatives regarding issues about science
Genetics Society of America (GSA) Public Policy
  • Participates in a variety of coalitions for advocacy  activities:  the Coalition for Life Sciences, American Institute of Biological Sciences, Research America
  • Advocacy statements released by the Board
National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Issues and Advocacy
  • Information sections: Latest, Federal, State
  • Take action: NSPE Political Action Committee, Legislative Action Center, issue briefs, position statements, engineer advocates
Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Policy Committee
  • Mission: inform major international conventions, governments, organizations and foundations regarding conservation of biological diversity
  • Organizational goals: advocate support for conservation science, disseminate the highest quality science, and increase application of science to management and policy
Society for Neuroscience (SFN) Education and Advocacy
  • Mission: promote public information and education about neuroscience; inform policymakers about new developments; increase public understanding of neuroscience
  • Advocacy Network, Congressional Outreach, Guide to Public Advocacy, International

Table 2: Links to Scientific Societies and their Advocacy Initiatives

American Anthropological Association (AAA)
American Chemical Society (ACS)
American Educational Research Association (AERA)
American Institute of Biology Sciences (AIBS)
American Meteorological Society (AMS)
American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)
American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
American Physical Society (APS)
American Psychological Association (APA)
American Sociological Association (ASA)
American Statistical Association (ASA)
Association of American Geographers (AAG)
Association for Psychological Science (APS)
Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA)
Ecological Society of America (ESA)
Federation of American Scientists (FAS)
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS)
Genetics Society of America (GSA)
National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
Society for Conservation Biology (SCB)
Society for Neuroscience (SFN)

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