How can you communicate your science to alter science policy and accurately inform the public? Driven by this question, BE Communication Fellow Aaron Dy, along with BE Fellow Manu Kumar, EECS Advisor Pete Lindahl, NSE Fellow Patrick White, and Dr. Dan Pomeroy of MIT’s International Policy Lab, created a new initiative to help students learn about Science Policy.
Here Aaron explains what inspired him, and the resources the Comm Lab now offers to take your passion for science policy to the next level – regardless of from where you’re starting.
Why did you want to get involved with this initiative?
I wanted to get involved in this science policy initiative because I had seen how hard it can be to translate our scientific communications into policymaker friendly formats. I knew I hadn’t been able to find resources like this when I helped to plan two graduate student council trips to Capitol Hill and to write statements on policy affecting graduate students.
Why should scientists care about science policy?
Scientists should care about science policy because their work can’t happen without it working well. Most of us are federally funded, and even if we’re not we still operate within regulations set by governments. Plus if if your scientific work has policy implications then you need to communicate that to policymakers so that can be used to improve policy decisions.
What was the one thing you were most surprised about in working on this content?
I was surprised at how few examples we could find of individual faculty or early career researchers communicating how their research connects to policy. It mostly comes from large working groups and scientific societies or waits until downstream organizations like think tanks incorporate it into their analysis.
How can you get involved?
First, if you want to get more involved in science policy, there are several resources available on campus and in the community.
If you are an MIT student, consider joining the MIT Science Policy Initiative to meet with other students, learn how to frame your work to have the greatest impact, and visit DC to speak with lawmakers.
If you are not an MIT student or you would like to get involved in other ways, you can find more information about science policy initiatives through AAAS Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP).
Second, start writing! Not sure where to start? Check out our new CommKit section on Science Policy. The easiest way place to start writing is to think about an OP-ED, blog post, or public comment about your policy of interest. Use the CommKit recourses to guide your writing on these topics.
We also have resources on other science policy communication related tasks. We hope that these resources will guide your idea generation and help shape your arguments to convince policy-makers about the significance of your science.
Third, book an appointment today to meet with a Comm Fellow to get feedback on the work you are doing.