14 December 2010

Lessons from John Holdren’s lecture: Your help is needed!

Posted by mohi

If the attendance at yesterday’s lecture by John Holdren made anything clear, it’s that scientists are definitely interested in the intersection between science and society.  Nearly 2000 attendees at the AGU Fall Meeting came to listen to Dr. Holdren, President Obama’s advisor for science and technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House.

Holdren spoke about the plethora of societal issues whose solutions are rooted in science—energy, climate change, natural resource limitations, and even national and homeland security, and health care.  He also discussed President Obama’s commitment to science and technology in general.  Holdren mentioned the President’s speech at the National Academy of Sciences in the spring of 2009 and his dedication to improving science-technology-engineering-mathematics (STEM) education across the country.  He also touched on the unprecedented amount of work done by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the excellence of the scientific leaders in his administration.  In the end, Holdren said, “No President has ever talked as much about science, technology, and innovation as much as this president has.”

But, I’m betting that at the end of the lecture many attendees were asking themselves, “So, what can I do?”  And the answer is, “PLENTY!”

Are you interested in learning how to communicate with policymakers?  Then, you should check out the “Communicating with Congress” workshop on Tuesday, from 12:30-1:30pm in Moscone South, Rooms 250-262.  One of AGU’s past Congressional Science Fellows, Karen Wayland, will talk about how Congress works and how to talk to policymakers.  Karen is currently the climate and energy advisor for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.  (There will be a free lunch so there’s no excuse for you to miss it!)

Then, you can always put those skills to good use in the future by participating in Congressional Visits Day, hosted twice per year by AGU in Washington, D.C.   Participants have the opportunity to meet with their elected legislators on Capitol Hill to discuss their research and their importance of federally funded scientific research.

However, one of the easiest ways to get involved is to sign up for AGU’s Science Policy Alerts.  These emails will keep you up to date on the latest developments on Earth and space sciences as they evolve on Capitol Hill.

There are so many other ways you can get involved that it’s just too many to list here.  I encourage you to have a look at the science policy section of the AGU website to learn more.   Or, learn about more of the science and society events at the AGU Fall Meeting in a special section of the meeting’s website.

To those of you who attended Dr. Holdren’s lecture, I hope you found it interesting and informative and perhaps it inspired you to become more active in that intersection between science and society.

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