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    A Blog from GradHacker and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online

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The Grad Activist: Resources for Science Advocacy

Where to learn more about becoming an activist for your favorite science-related issues.

November 20, 2018
 
 

Ingrid J. Paredes is a Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering at New York University. You can find her on Twitter @ingridjoylyn.

Outside of my lab work, I’ve spent the last year learning about community organizing and advocacy as a satellite organizer for March for Science. Learning about advocacy has given me a sense of community outside of my lab group that I didn’t think I’d find in graduate school—we marched together, registered new voters, and now it’s time for us to decide as an organization what comes next. In doing so, I’ve been looking at the excellent work other science advocacy groups have done for inspiration. If you are looking for a way to get involved in science advocacy, check out them out!

These resources are for everyone regardless of discipline—science is integral to everything, from healthcare to climate change, and the more voices we have in support of science, the stronger our presence will be.

500 Women Scientists is a grassroots organization that was formed in 2016. The movement began with an open letter re-affirming scientists’ commitment to speak up for science and for women, minorities, immigrants, people with disabilities, and LGBTQIA. Since then, women have created local 500 Women Scientists pods all around the globe. Their initiatives focused on local efforts including writing op-eds and hosting Wikipedia edit-a-thons to create pages for women scientists. Online, they’ve made resources available for building science communication skills, addressing harassment, and advocating for science policy. My favorite resource of theirs is their Request a Scientist page, which provides contact information for women scientists around the globe who are available for collaborations, speaking engagements, or consulting.

Science Policy Network is a network of science policy, advocacy, and diplomacy groups distributed across the United States focused on providing scientists with resources and training for careers in science policy, ranging in focus in promoting the use of science in policy decisions to those that promote policies that support science. The network is separated into regional hubs that comprise of on-campus science policy groups listed on their site; I suggest looking at these groups’ sites to find groups to join or for inspiration in starting your own on-campus advocacy efforts. They also hold an annual Science Policy Symposium connecting scientists in policy to local community organizers. The Science Policy Group at Berkeley has created national campaigns such as STEMVotes, an initiative that seeks to increase voter turnout among STEM students.

Scientist Action and Advocacy Network is an organization of scientists, students, and faculty who use their scientific expertise to conduct analyses of data and literature reviews for local non-profit organizations that seek to influence policy. Their work, highlighted on their homepage, has included scientific support towards Miranda Rights, critique of solitary confinement, and evaluation of NY’s plastic bag fee. They have also lobbied in partnership with other organizations to support evidence-based policy.

MeTooSTEM is a grassroots movement that takes action against sexual harassment in academia. Their website is a space for scientists to share stories, and in this past year, they’ve made several big accomplishments, including having RateMyProfessor to drop their sexist “chili pepper” faculty rating and forcing American Association for the Advancement of Science to stop giving honors to men found guilty of sexual misconduct.

Science Debate is a nonprofit organization that asks candidates, elected officials, the public and the media to focus more on science policy issues of vital importance to modern life. During each election cycle, they publish a list of ten science and technology questions they feel that our policymakers should address. They also have a toolkit for hosting local events, and, if you have an idea you’d like to explore, they’ve just announced a mini-grant program for rewards of up to $3,000 for science advocacy efforts.

Union of Concerned Scientists is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put “rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems.” Their work spans topics from clean energy to transportation. Their Science Network is open to students, with grant opportunities available for science advocacy.

From pushing for evidence-based policy to fighting for inclusion in STEM, these grassroots and professional organizations are doing important work that is necessary to advance science. Personally, it has been very motivating to find like-minded organizers and scientists committed to these causes, and since science is for everyone, everyone can be an advocate too.

Do you belong to an advocacy group on campus? What resources do you use? Share it with us in the comments or tweet us @GradHacker!

[Image from Flickr user The Kingsway School and used under in the Creative Commons]

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