How you can get involved in science policy
How do government officials use science to inform the laws and policies they write? And how can scientists be involved in that process?
That was the topic of Saturday’s science policy workshop put on by Sci4NY, a new initiative to bridge the gap between scientists and policymakers.The 3-hour workshop covered a range of topics, from why scientists should be involved in policy to the structure of the New York City government.
Below are some key takeaways on practical steps scientists can take to get involved in policy.
How to get involved in science policy
Find out who your NYC councilmember is. If there is an issue that you care about or if you have questions or suggestions on a given issue in your neighborhood, feel free to contact their office
Attend a community board meeting. Community boards are made up of community members and provide recommendations on land use and zoning, the city budget, municipal services, and other areas. Board meetings occur once a month and are open to the public. Attend a meeting to learn about issues affecting your neighborhood, what groups are involved, and to share your thoughts. (Find your community board here)
Join a local community-based organization. The city is full of local organizations that work to lobby city councilmembers on key issues affecting the city, from land use and rezoning to climate change resiliency, healthcare, and election reform
Look at the data. NYC Open Data is a free public dataset with data from agencies across the city. If you want to make a case to your councilmember or community board, it’s good to have numbers to back up your argument. If you're interested in learning more, check out how you can be a part of Open Data Week 2020, starting February 28.
Think about your non-scientist identities. Science policy is about knowing about what’s important where you live. How can you merge your scientific identity with your identity as a neighbor, a parent, an avid birdwatcher…whatever the case may be…to impact your local community?
Listen. If you are going to get involved in policy and government, you will be helping to make changes that affect people’s lives. While science and data may tell one story, it’s important to understand what those data mean in the context of the communities and people impacted. Instead of viewing your interactions as a one-way, didactic exchange, open up a two-way dialog and realize that you have just as much to learn as you do to share
Check out Sci4NY. Look into their science policy internship program for early career scientists, or send them an email for other ways to get involved