Sunday, February 19, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Jared S. Mondschein, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Policy makers craft laws and regulations that have dramatic effects on the science being conducted in research laboratories. Simultaneously, the generation of scientific knowledge can advise the policy making process. Ph.D.-educated scientists are critical to informing this process, but the overwhelming majority of STEM graduate programs lack formal training in science policy. At The Pennsylvania State University, the graduate student-run Science Policy Society (SPS) fills this void by educating students about the connection between their science and public policy, with a dedicated focus on science advocacy training. To date, this has been accomplished through three pathways. First, the SPS hosts events designed to educate students about science policy, science communication, and public outreach. Second, the SPS engages in legislative outreach, hosting meetings with local and federal policy makers both at Penn State and on Capitol Hill. Third, the Science Policy Society connects graduate students with science policy professionals in the field to enable transitions from graduate school into public policy careers and fellowships. Here, we show that there is a demand for such training at PhD granting institutions, with students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members from all disciplines participating. We also provide evidence that this training is improving students’ awareness of the connection between their science and public policy, and has produced notable improvements in their ability to communicate to non-technical audiences.