Scientists, Call Your Congresspeople

At the American Astronomical Society meeting a few weeks ago, I attended a session on the Presidential Transition (a handy summary of tweets from myself and others can be found here). One of the most interesting panelists was Mark Mozena, a former Congressional staffer with Rep. Honda, who had a lot to say not only about the transition, but about the engagement of scientists with policy makers… or rather, the lack thereof.

During the Q&A, Mozena told us he was going to share something to illustrate the current state of science advocacy– here’s what he said: in every Congressperson’s office, there are filing boxes in which incoming commentary from their constituents is recorded. For example, things like immigration, health care, etc., all have their own boxes– and it doesn’t matter whether a constituent is for or against, all calls are recorded and filed by topic.

So few calls are about science, Science doesn’t get its own box. Calls about science are so rare, they get filed under “Other”. 

That’s right, my fellow scientists, if you’ve called to discuss anything with your representation, it’s currently moldering between other calls about other issues nearly nobody advocates for.

As I write these words, a Facebook group for a Scientists’ March on Washington has ballooned from a few hundred people to tens of thousands. If each one of those science advocates call their representative tomorrow, I wonder how many offices will need to buy a new filing box and mark it for science? 

The best part is, science is so epically fucked right now that no matter what your discipline, there’s something to call about: climate, the definition of life, health care, grants funding for basic research, you name it.

If you’re wondering how and why to interact with your representative, check out the Indivisible Guide— it’s free, very well-written, and can help bring you up to speed on how to make your communications effective.

If you want to look up who represents you, check here.

If you’re going to march, march… but first, let your dialing fingers do the walking.

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One Response to Scientists, Call Your Congresspeople

  1. santafecyn says:

    Love your tangible and practical “factoid” about research science outreach!

    I’ve attended several ocean education conferences and stayed on the ocean educators “open” listserve for several years, and it was terribly apparent that these scientists are all “speaking to the converted.” Their “public engagement” normally ends with the pressure on them to “publish”… but then they rely on API and other science journalists to pick-it-up and comment/write about it to make the connection between the research results and humans [why we should all care]. Of course, science communication is not taught in college when students are busy on the journey of specialized learning… all the “silos” that seldom speak to one-another. NAS in NYC has quite a big push for “science communication” these days, but they still DISREGARD the idea of collaborating with artists to create imaginative ways to bring science concepts/info alive… but I think they still leave-out the “relevant” aspect.

    You are a great advocate! and example of the Leonardo-type of public engagement person. Are you still enjoying your Chicago job?

    cheers, Cynthia Pannucci/ASCI.ORG


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