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How to Get Involved in Science Policy

Last updated
June 30, 2021

There are so many ways to use your science communication skills. One is by participating in science policy initiatives - but how do you get your foot in the door?

Getting Started

This PNAS article makes an excellent case for why scientists should get involved in science policy.

Once you've decided that you're interested, there are tons of organizations dedicated to helping scientists impact policy around the world. Here are a few of our favorites:

No matter what kind of policy work you're doing, it's important to have a clear message. Here's our guide on talking to journalists, which applies to some policy instances, too!

Case study: Testifying in front of the Board of Education

Julia York wrote a whole story about teaching climate change and testifying in front of legislators. Reflecting on the experience, she wrote, "Before I appeared before the Board of Education, testifying was intimidating. Afterward, I realized that by calmly stating my qualifications, the scientific evidence, and my opinion, I helped to push the board to remove some of the creationist language from its standards last year." Here are Julia's recommendations for testifying in a similar situation: 

  • Be specific; in debates about science education, the board is often only considering a specific piece of proposed language, so frame your argument around why or why not that language should be adopted. There’s no need to grandstand on general principles. 
  • Stay calm; these meetings can draw out a lot of passion, but getting angry or loud only allows people to dismiss your ideas. 
  • Bring written copies of your statement, and any additional evidence or documentation for each member of the board – and for some of the office staff who supply documents and influence the board members. 
  • Pay attention to the time limit; often you are given only a few minutes to testify, and you will be cut off. 
  • Pat yourself on the back! Getting involved really pushes the boards to be better. If you are feeling hesitant and in need of support, try reaching out to a local nonprofit or community group, which might be able to help you get started.