14 December 2009

Becoming a Citizen Scientist

Posted by Michael McFadden

 When did you first realize that the actions of politicians can affect your science?  And that your science can be a key component in policy debates?  Such current political debates on Capitol Hill involving Earth science include climate change, energy, and water resources.

While AGU is well known by its members for its meetings and its publications, most members don’t know about AGU’s efforts in public policy.  The Public Affairs department maintains an active presence on Capitol Hill and our activities include bringing together Members of Congress and scientists, hosting briefings to educate Members of Congress and their staff, and tracking legislation that affects Earth and space science.

One of our most successful events is Congressional Visits Day (CVD), in which AGU partners with other scientific societies to bring hundreds of scientists to Washington, DC, to meet with their legislators on Capitol Hill.

AGU Member Eric Betterton (U. Ariz) with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)
AGU Member Eric Betterton (U. Ariz) with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)

Participants discuss their research, the importance of federally funded research, and the significance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This is a wonderful opportunity for scientists to establish relationships with their elected representatives and to become a future resource for them. CVD is held twice a year and in 2010, it will take place on 28-29 April and 21-22 October.

In preparation for their Congressional visits, participants attend a one-day workshop that teaches them how to communicate with Congress. There is a similar workshop held today, entitled Communicating with Congress. Susan Joy Hassol, a science communication expert, along with Elizabeth Landau from AGU’s Public Affairs office, will teach attendants how to become politically involved at a local and national level and how to speak to elected representatives about science. It will provide tips and techniques for speaking effectively about science to policymakers. Lunch will be served, but space is limited, and there is no advanced registration required.

I encourage you to come to the workshop from 12:30-1:30PM in Moscone South 270-272 to learn how to become a citizen scientist… and for the free food!

—Kaitlin Chell, AGU Public Affairs Coordinator
, [email protected]