By the time you receive this newsletter, the US Presidential election will be history and, assuredly, historic. We will either have our first African-American president or our first woman vice-president. Either way, we will have a new president, a new administration and, most likely, a new science policy that will be used to guide research funding and technology decision-making. I hope you all had a chance to check out the “Science Debate 2008” website to see how the candidates responded to the “top 14” science and technology questions posed by that ad hoc organization. The “top 14” questions were whittled down from an initial list of over 3400 submitted by some of the 38,000 “Science Debate 2008” members, from university presidents to Nobel Laureates, who signed on during the course of the year. Both candidates submitted written responses to the questions and those answers are available at the Science Debate 2008 website. Even though the election is now past, the answers posted by the winning candidate will serve as a useful indicator of our new President’s potential science and technology policy. I encourage you to check it out. The questions and other information on Science Debate 2008 are available here:
It is certainly to our benefit to be cognizant of the administration’s science and technology policy as it can directly impact our lives and livelihood. Less obvious perhaps, but of equal importance are the issues in the public arena that would benefit from unbiased, rational scientific input. The SIVB Public Policy committee is dedicated to monitoring science-related issues in the public domain and bringing them to the attention of the SIVB membership. Conversely, as a member of the Public Policy committee, I would like to encourage you, our membership, to bring any public policy issues to our attention. Please feel free to contact any member of the Public Policy committee, Pam Weathers (chair), Gene Elmore, Kevin Knockenhauer, and yours truly. Email addresses are listed below. Information on public policy issues that have been addressed by the SIVB public policy committee can be found on the Public Policy page on the SIVB website. If you want information on a broader range of public policy issues, I would encourage you to avail yourself of the public policy programs at other scientific organizations. I highly recommend two particularly, the public policy committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has an excellent, regularly-updated and highly informative website. The other organization with a very active public policy committee with an emphasis on biological issues is the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). AIBS maintains an extensive website on a range of public policy topics, including a library of articles, position papers and training initiatives. Not only do these websites provide information on important public policy issues, but they also provide resources and workshops to help scientists communicate science more effectively and engage the public in science dialogues. While I believe being informed is necessary, it isn’t sufficient if you want to have an impact on science and technology policy and the public perception of science. As scientists, we have an obligation to be engaged, involved and proactive in ensuring our government enacts policy, legislation and regulations that are firmly science-based and rational.
So, use the resources available to you, keep up-to-date on the issues and remain politically energized, even after the excitement of the presidential election has worn off.