WORKSHOP RECAP: Reaching Policymakers: Science Communication & Outreach Workshop for JSPG Early-Career Authors
On October 26, 2021, the Journal of Science Policy & Governance (JSPG) organized a science communication and outreach workshop for winning authors from the JSPG Special Issue on Shaping the Future of Science Policy in partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and sponsored by the Kavli Foundation, published earlier this year. The goal of the workshop was to empower JSPG early-career authors with tools for communicating their research and policy papers more broadly to engage policymakers and the general public. This effort is part of JSPG’s initiative to leverage work published by early career authors in policy discourse and debate, and take these ideas beyond the publications. View the workshop recording.
The workshop was led by Lisa M.P. Munoz, president and founder of SciComm Services, a full-service science communications consulting firm. During the workshop, Lisa gave an introductory presentation covering the importance of science communications, ways of identifying audience and goals, elements of a good “pitch,” tips for creating versatile research/policy pitches, and how the authors can make the most of their pitches. Authors then gave lightning pitches on their publication abstract, and received feedback from Lisa. Finally, authors worked on crafting and refining their pitches into a short paragraph (100-200 words) in groups. Lisa then provided more feedback on these pitches, which are listed below. These pitches are a good example of ways to engage desired audiences with policy ideas put forth in JSPG publications.
Resulting pitches (*workshop participants)
Andrew Crain* - Inclusive Science Policy and Economic Development in the 21st Century: The Case for Rural America
Even though college degree attainment is on the rise nationally, the gap in degree attainment between rural and urban communities is actually increasing. The fact is that a child growing up in rural America does not have the same life opportunities to engage in the innovation economy of the 21st Century. This is true in terms of important infrastructure such as healthcare and broadband internet, and it is true of economic opportunities like high-growth industries and STEM education. I argue that this is a pressing policy issue that has to be addressed. By focusing on STEM education, I propose a number of policy changes that could enhance access to the innovation economy for rural students. These changes include more investment in STEM education in rural K-12 schools - for example, STEM preparatory and AP coursework - more investment in rural-serving colleges, and more geographically-inclusive approaches to funding scientific research and knowledge start-ups. Each of these strategies could lead us toward a future where economic opportunity is more available to all - regardless of their geography.
Carolyn E. Ramírez* - Without Environmental Justice, the Renewable Energy Transition Will Leave Low-Income and BIPOC Communities Behind
As extreme weather events become more common in the United States due to the worsening effects of climate change, access to utilities like electricity and water will be continually strained. Climate change most negatively impacts environmental justice communities: low-income and communities of color. While renewable energy technologies promise alleviation of emissions and pollution, high cost and a lack of equitable energy infrastructure make it harder for environmental justice communities to access renewable energy benefits. As a chemical engineering researcher studying renewable energy technologies, I propose a series of policies to level the field in terms of household and utility infrastructure for all communities including significantly increasing funding to existing federal weatherization programs, implementing consumer protections, and establishing local task forces to increase stakeholder buy-in to renewable technologies.
Jeremy Pesner* - Ensuring Social Impact at Every Stage of Technology Research & Development
The US spends over $450 billion annually on research, but how can we ensure that this research actually helps us improve our country, much less the lives of all its citizens? Most research funding, review and execution is only undertaken by scientists, with minimal understanding by, transparency to and input from outside stakeholders. For example, stakeholders for advances in legged robotics may range from geoscientists (for field research on desertification) to the military (for supporting soldiers in rough terrain) to potential victims of police brutality (if the police benefit from these robotic advancements). Research often leads to many new technologies and innovations, but those whose expertise and lives are intertwined with them, such as policymakers, educators, VC investors and underserved citizens, all need to help guide the research from the very beginning. These stakeholders must judge the potential impact of research proposals to establish clear expectations of how research that is selected for funding will benefit everyone in the long run. While scientific novelty is an important criteria to consider when funding research, it cannot be the only one, and must be balanced against larger societal concerns as well.
Kaylee R. Henry*, Ranya K.A. Virk*, Lindsay DeMarchi, Huei Sears* - A Call to Diversify the Lingua Franca of Academic STEM Communities
Imagine writing an article in Chinese and winning the Nobel prize for this work, but then you only get cited ONCE outside of China. This happened to Tu Youyou - instead, an English summary of her work was cited over 500 times! To prevent this from happening again, we propose that all scientific journal articles be published in at least two languages. In our multilingual world, it is unfair that English is so highly prioritized and this is built into the current infrastructure of academic publishing. By publishing science in at least two languages, we would improve international scientific communication to help solve complex, global issues such as climate change, and emphasize the importance of all researchers, regardless of language.
Vetri Velan*, Rachel Woods-Robinson*, Elizabeth Case, Isabel Warner, Andrea Poppiti, Brian Abramowitz - The Federal Science Project: A Scientist in Every Classroom
Imagine if every classroom in the US was visited by a practicing scientist or engineer, every year. When I was growing up, I’d never met a scientist. It wasn’t until I did that I could envision myself in a career in science and see science as a way to solve global challenges like climate change. We propose a program called The Federal Science Project to deliver this opportunity to every student. As of now, most outreach programs are concentrated in cities or around big institutions, so there is a barrier to access, which exacerbates inequities in STEM. But with our program, federal, state, and local governments would build a nationwide network to connect scientists with teachers and schools. This network would allow students across the country, regardless of geography, race, ethnicity, class, or other barriers to meet scientists. Such a program would radically transform the way in which scientists engage with society, and in turn how students learn about science in school.
This post was written and compiled by Adriana Bankston.