7 Ideas for Entomologists to Get Engaged in Science Policy
In the past decade, it has become apparent that scientists must stand up and advocate for the value their work delivers to society and human progress. But it’s a role many in science are learning as they go.
Indeed, the Entomological Society of America’s science policy program is barely more than five years old, but it has quickly found an energetic base of support and engagement in the entomological community.
To further encourage and foster that energy for science advocacy, the Annals of the Entomological Society of America has published a new special collection of papers to help scientists develop skills to be effective members of the politico-scientific community. Authors in the collection include scientists, ESA Science Policy Fellows, government relations and advocacy professionals, science writers, and more.
With the help of the collection’s lead editor, Helen Spafford, Ph.D., entomologist, ESA Science Policy Fellow, and graduate student in the Department of Political Science at the University of New Orleans, we’ve gathered one highlight from each of the papers and shared them here. Together, they offer a set of thought-provoking ideas on the practice of science advocacy, and we hope they’ll encourage you to dig into the full Annals of the ESA Science Policy Special Collection.
Scientists in the Politico-Scientific Community: Beyond the Lorax, by H. Spafford:
“In this milieu of individual and cultural values, where messages are communicated in sound-bites and tweets, the facts, tools for research, and technology do not always speak for themselves. Their complexity alone often requires interpretation for non-specialists.”
The Entomological Society of America and Science Policy Engagement, by R. N. Wiedenmann, F. G. Zalom, E. L. Cadwalader, M. Alleyne, C. J. Stelzig:
“One reality of modern politics is this—if you’re not advocating for your interests, no one is. Lawmakers and their staff face a Sisyphean task of daily meetings from individuals and organizational representatives who seek to promote their policy agendas. Those who are not present for these discussions will be left behind when funding decisions are made.”
The Importance of Encouraging Scientists to Bug Members of Congress, by E. L. Cadwalader, E. D. O’Hare:
“It is important to build relations with one’s delegation to serve as a source of information based on the best available data and evidence—there is no objective, non-partisan internal group of scientific and technical experts providing input to members of Congress and their staff. At the same time, it is important to recognize that expert input, even from a constituent, is but one of the many competing interests that Members of Congress must weigh to do their jobs effectively.”
From Research to Policy: Scientists Speaking For Science, by J. E. Elsensohn, T. Anderson, J. R. Cryan, T. Durham, K. J. K. Gandhi, J. Gordon, R. K. Krell, M. L. Pimsler, A. Rivers, H. Spafford:
“Be aware of the role of language in how messages are received, including use of non-partisan framing when crafting a message. Communications may be tailored to the audience without being partisan, e.g. the same information could be presented to two congressional offices, but the context may differ depending on the needs and concerns of their respective constituents.”
Science Policy Begins at Home: Grassroots Advocacy at the State and Local Level, by M. L. Pimsler, R. K. Krell, M. Alleyne, T. Anderson, A. Kennedy, T. Durham:
“Familiarizing oneself with the process and function of state and local governments and identifying the most practical avenues for the specific interest at hand is vital for effective grassroots science policy. … When a leader is invited to the ‘trenches’ firsthand, the issue resonates more strongly and assumes a greater sense of relevance and urgency.”
Alternative Facts and Entomological Engagement, by G. A. Pearson:
“The ratio of signal to noise in this new media ecosystem means that if all we do is broadcast facts, we are doomed to fail. We must address the entire spectrum of human experience — including emotions, social relationships, and community ties — or we will continue to be outcompeted by misinformation or ignored. Incorporating behavioral and social science in our messaging can help us influence how people evaluate and receive entomological information, as well as feel and act upon the results of our research.”
Conversations About Science Advocacy: A March for Science Perspective, by C. K. Weinberg, K. E. Gunther, J. Davidson, V. Grover, S. F. Sasse, A. Yang:
“The fight to defend science’s role in society and policy cannot be undertaken by scientists alone. Scientists must develop and maintain partnerships with their communities and engage in conversations in the public sphere. Research funding, public health initiatives, climate change, sustainability, conservation: these are all issues that attract the interest, passion, and investment of people around the world.”
Annals of the Entomological Society of America