Making Your Science Relevant To Policymakers: Pondering Advice From Newt Gingrich

Reach out and schedule a coffee or lunch, or drop by an office when you're in town. Build relationships and policy relevance. Image by Meg Gilley

I recently heard Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and an academic historian by training, address an audience of environmental and health scientists at the annual conference of the National Council on Science and the Environment.

Gingrich, a staunch right-wing conservative whose relationship with science has been described as “complicated,” addressed a silent and visibly tense audience at a lunchtime plenary. He began with, “You can hunker down and decide you want to be oppositionist and that you are going to hate everything and life will be terrible, or you can dig in and work with the administration.”

His remarks struck a chord. Ever since, I have been reflecting on what this means for those of you who want to engage with policymakers. [Read more…]

Navigating A New World

Sunrise at Snowbird, 7:23 AM MST, November 9, 2016

On election night, the COMPASS team gathered together in a sports bar in Snowbird, Utah, where there is scarcely a skiff of snow, for our annual retreat.  We’ve spent the week planning next year’s activities, the transition of our beloved Executive Director, and eagerly watching a long-anticipated historic transition. Our exuberant discussions about the future fell silent as we stared at our phones, watched the returns on the big screen, tracked the predictive Nate Silver, and slipped outside under a dark Utah sky to phone home to loved ones. In the turbulence of the night, we each processed, in our own ways, the meaning of this turn of events. [Read more…]

Tides Of Change: A Capitol Hill Briefing On How Oceans Are Changing And How Those Changes Affect Fisheries And Fishing Communities

Image by Linda Tanner,

On June 28th, 2016, COMPASS will be supporting scientists to discuss their knowledge of the impacts of ocean change on fisheries and the communities that depend on them with policymakers on Capitol Hill. We hope you’ll be able to join us! [Read more…]

Getting Out There: Making The Most Of Your Networks And Travels

Image by Meg Gilley.

Most of us have found ourselves in a new city for work or a conference, but how often have you taken advantage of the location to meet new people and expand your network? Maybe you’re planning to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting in February and you’re traveling all the way to Washington, D.C. This is a great opportunity to network and start to build relationships in the policy world.

[Read more…]

Briefing Debrief: “California’s Changing Oceans” Scientists Jenn Caselle, Francis Chan, Tessa Hill, And Kristy Kroeker

CA_Oceans_Briefing_2015

On November 4, 2015, four eminent scientists came to Sacramento to deliver a briefing about our changing oceans. From ocean acidification to low oxygen zones, the scientists described the challenges that will confront California’s marine ecosystems in the years ahead. They also described how marine protected areas and long-term monitoring are informing our understanding of ocean change. Following the briefing, the scientists took a moment to reflect on the challenges and opportunities associated with bringing science to policymakers. [Read more…]

Briefing Debrief: ‘Shoring Up’ Scientists Share Their Perspectives On Visiting The Hill

ShoringUp_capitol

As many of our readers know, COMPASS works with scientists to help them share their work with the wider world – especially journalists and policymakers. Last week, COMPASS worked with the American Meteorological Society to bring four researchers to Capitol Hill to talk about the role of natural infrastructure in coastal protection.

This week marks the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, an event that catalyzed new federal investments and directives to understand how to build economic, community and ecological resilience for our nation’s coasts – efforts that have begun to bear fruit. This briefing brought together researchers to discuss the state of the science and our understanding of the benefits and trade-offs of using natural and nature-based approaches to enhance coastal resilience. See our previous blog post for more details.

As with all COMPASS policy events, our goal was to create an opportunity for the scientists to share what they know – and why it matters – with policymakers and to build relationships as trusted resources going forward.

Part of the fun is to hear from scientists what their experience was like. We asked them all a few questions about the day, and share some of their responses below.
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California’s Changing Oceans: A Sacramento, CA Briefing On Implications Of Ocean Change For Policy And Management

Photo Credit: the_tahoe_guy, (CC BY 2.0)

 On November 4th, COMPASS is supporting scientists to share their knowledge about changes in the ocean, and what those changes mean for our coasts, managers, and decision-makers. Occurring just before the Annual Meeting of the Western Society of Naturalists this year in Sacramento, this event will help scientists attending to connect with state policymakers. We hope you’ll be able to join us!

UPDATE: Thank you to all who attended! We’ve provided the slides and handout from the speakers below.

[Read more…]

Shoring Up: A Capitol Hill Briefing On Natural Infrastructure

NJ Boardwalk - US Fish and Wildlife copy 2

Next week, COMPASS is supporting scientists to share their knowledge on how, where and when natural infrastructure can be used to enhance the protection and resilience of our coasts and coastal communities. We are excited to be partnering with the American Metrological Society for this briefing. This event is part of our connecting work – where our goal is to create opportunities to connect scientists to the right people at the right time. We hope you can join us next week!

UPDATE: Thank you to all who attended! We’ve provided the slides and handout from the speakers below.

[Read more…]

Lynn Scarlett: On Science, Policy, And Joining Our Board

LynnSDOI SB courthouse

This week, we welcome Lynn Scarlett to the COMPASS Board of Directors. Lynn is currently the Managing Director for Public Policy at The Nature Conservancy, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior under George W. Bush, and has held many other positions, advisory and board service roles that you can read about here. She has been a champion for the use of science in decision-making, brings vast experience and networks in the environmental policy sphere, and continues to work toward a healthy democracy that allows people and environment to thrive. Lynn has not only engaged with scientists throughout her career, she advocates for scientists to engage and for constructive, two-way dialogues between scientists and policymakers.  As I welcomed Lynn to the board, I had the chance to learn more about her experiences and perspectives regarding scientists engaging in the policy sphere.

We are thrilled to have her contribute her ideas and expertise as we at COMPASS work to get more scientists to engage effectively in the public discourse about the environment. Welcome Lynn!

[Read more…]

A Briefing Debrief: Scientist Tales From A Day On The Hill

Dr. Drew Harvell presenting at "Sea Sick: A science briefing on understanding the causes of marine disease and consequences for coastal communities," July 9, 2015. Image courtesy of the Office of Rep. Denny Heck.

This post is co-authored by COMPASS Science Engagement Specialist Heather Mannix.

Last week, COMPASS brought a team of scientists to Capitol Hill to participate in “Sea Sick: A science briefing on understanding the causes of marine disease and consequences for coastal communities.” As part of their pre-briefing preparation with the COMPASS team, these four scientists worked hard to understand their audience, coordinate their remarks, and make sure their science was clear, compelling, and relevant. With last year’s high profile sea star wasting disease epidemic on the West Coast likely to occur again this summer, and pending legislation on marine disease in the House of Representatives, this was an ideal time to bring the science related to these events to the forefront. As with all COMPASS policy events, our goal was to create an opportunity for the scientists to share what they know – and why it matters – with policymakers and to build relationships as trusted resources going forward.
[Read more…]