Going Public: What Do We Know About Our Investment In Science Communication?

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At this year’s AAAS annual meeting, the volume of sessions and workshops about science communications clearly reflected the community’s growing appetite and interest.  We’re notably moving past conversations about why scientists need to engage, and into conversations around how we can best support scientists to do so. Research shows that scientists do want to engage, but that they don’t have the time or resources to do it.

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4/12/13 Link Round-Up

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

Anniversaries are celebrated in a myriad of ways. Some people host huge parties for even the smallest milestones, while others will let a truly momentous occasion slip by without even batting an eye. One anniversary that deserves celebration is the US National Academy of Sciences. They are getting ready to celebrate the anniversary of their very first meeting– 150 years ago! Whether you are on the celebratory wagon or not, 150 years is quite remarkable! A few other things we’ve found remarkable this week are rounded up below: [Read more…]

#GradSciComm: How COMPASS Is Answering The National Demand For Science Communication Training

Journalist Jon Hamilton helps to facilitate a COMPASS workshop for School of Global Environmental Sustainability Fellows at Colorado State.

This post is co-authored by Liz Neeley and Erica Goldman.

With all of the speculation about the sequester’s possible impacts on science, one sobering conclusion feels clear: young scientists will be hit hard by cuts to federal science budgets. While new faculty may have some buffer, those dependent on the grants of others – like graduate students and postdocs – are already suffering a loss of projects and career opportunities. Paired with a job market where less than 20% of new science PhD’s can expect to find a tenure-track job, and it is a grim picture indeed. While much of this is far outside the control of an individual researcher, there is still an important role for personal action. Investing the time and energy to fine-tune communication skills not only makes scientists more competitive, but can also equip them to engage in critically important discussions about our most urgent social priorities. Now, more than ever, next-generation scientists on all career trajectories need to be effective communicators and advocates for why their work matters. (You can read some of our related blogs and articles on this topic here, here, and here.) [Read more…]

Budget Trade-offs: A Zero-Sum Game

Once the budget subcommittee has decided on their 302(b) sub-allocations, the battle for dollars becomes a zero-sum game.

PHOTO BY CHAD ENGLISH.

Should this dollar go to the NSF or to the FBI? It can’t go to both. You have to respect the people who make that decision.”

David Goldston of the Natural Resources Defense Council made this comment in front of a full room at the AAAS annual meeting last month (you can find paraphrases of this comment in the Twitter stream, Storified here). This is a very real choice, and it’s being set up right now through the federal budget process. There are thousands of people on Capitol Hill this week trying to make the case for their programs including probably hundreds of scientists and science supporters.

The seemingly endless budget and spending and sequestration noise coming out of D.C. can seem overwhelming and tedious. With sequestration threatening even the annual White House Easter egg roll, the budget rhetoric in D.C. remains heated and the gridlock seems complete. The President still hasn’t released a budget proposal for 2014 and now isn’t expected to until next month (despite my earlier prognostication). But for Congress, the budget process is marching on, and the tradeoff David described is getting set up right now.

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Finding The Science Signal In The Budget Noise

Flying Money

Most of us have had our fill of the “fiscal cliff,” are glad that we’re (technically) past it, but dread the next round of this fiercely political debate. In the midst of this – in two weeks time – the President is supposed to present his proposed budget to Congress and the next federal budget cycle will start. That’s been delayed, but not likely by more than a few weeks. Most people who don’t live inside the Beltway are blissfully ignorant of this incredibly complex and sometimes convoluted process, although it can have real bearing on their lives. In addition to the obvious implications for science funding, scientific conferences are reportedly feeling the direct effects of federal budget limits. After eight years inside the Beltway, I still learn something new about the federal budget every year. [Read more…]

The Federal Budget & You: Why Scientists Should Care About R&D Spending

Photo courtesy of the Council on Foreign Relation's Blog.

Last month, in a rare display of activism, hundreds of Canadian scientists took to the streets to protest, among other things, cuts to federal funding for environmental research and the forced closure of several research stations.  Their chant: “No science. No evidence. No truth. No democracy.”  Faced with the imminent loss of jobs and research funding across several key environmental programs, Canadian scientists are reacting vigorously to the indisputable link between the federal science budget and their academic livelihoods.

But in the absence of a critical funding crisis, scientists writ large often seem unaware of the critical role that the federal science budget plays in their daily lives. Here in the U.S., when scientists develop their research queries into proposals to the relevant federal agencies, most don’t stop to think about why that agency has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in that subject area or how that money came to be there. Many scientists don’t understand – much less engage in – the complex machinations of the Congressional appropriations process. [Read more…]