SCIENCE POLICY AND DIPLOMACY

AAAS provides tools to equip scientists and engineers to advocate for science and be active in policymaking. The Office of Government Relations communicates with congressional representatives and staff, organizes Capitol Hill briefings and meetings, and produces evidence-based science and technology updates, including analyses of federal investments in science and engineering research and development (R&D). AAAS trains and encourages scientists to become active in policymaking and advocating for science. The Office of International and Security Affairs and the Center for Science Diplomacy foster international scientific collaborations and personal connections among researchers, which leads to new discoveries, improved relationships among governments and benefits the public welfare.

Advocating for Science in U.S. Policymaking

The U.S. presidential election offered many opportunities for AAAS to be active in advocating for science to policymakers. Before the election, AAAS and 59 other leading nonpartisan organizations asked the presidential candidates to address 20 key science-related questions, and called on journalists and voters to request answers. The day after the election, AAAS CEO Rush Holt issued a statement that urged President-elect Donald Trump to name a qualified, cabinet-level science adviser and encouraged Congress to pass a fiscal year 2017 budget. Continuing efforts included Science editorials by Holt as well as Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Berg, AAAS webcast seminars on postelection impacts, and a letter signed by Holt and 28 other science and education leaders, calling for a national science adviser.

AAAS also swiftly put in place a Force for Science advocacy portal to offer resources and information during the leadership transition in Washington, D.C., and reached out to cabinet-level nominees in the new administration. In op-eds, Holt described science as a “unifying force,” and offered encouragement to early-career scientists and engineers who may be concerned about changes in the government after the presidential election: “Speak up. Stay focused. Carry on.”

Science and Technology Policy Fellows Bring Expertise to U.S. Government

The 44th class of AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows began their two-week orientation and training in September before heading off to work in one of the three branches of the U.S. federal government. The 259 fellows in the 2016 class, all of whom have advanced degrees in science, engineering or medicine, contribute technical expertise while learning about policymaking firsthand.

259 Experts Placed in the Federal Government

The Science & Technology Policy Fellows class of 2016, all of whom have advanced degrees in science, engineering or medicine, contribute technical expertise while learning about policymaking firsthand.

Online Dashboard Makes Federal R&D Budget Analysis More Useful

Trends in federal R&D funding were made clearer with a new Budget Dashboard developed by the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program, designed to “enhance the transparency, accessibility and usefulness of historical AAAS data,” said Matt Hourihan, program director. For example, the tool illustrates how federal research funding began to slow in fiscal year 2004, after a long period of steady increases and long before budget sequestration policies began to take effect.

In a December report issued on trends in federal R&D funding, the program showed that the decline in federal research funding is linked to a continued reduction in discretionary spending. The R&D Budget Program also analyzed congressional funding proposals for the 2017 budget, and issued a joint report in November with other leading science organizations.

Golden Goose Awards Honor Basic Science

Three research teams were recognized with Golden Goose Awards in 2016, including a team that created an algorithm describing honeybees’ foraging patterns. The algorithm is now used to optimize web-hosting servers. The awards, founded by AAAS and others, recognize federally funded basic science investigations that have resulted in important practical applications.

Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) Trains Students

AAAS and a coalition of other science and engineering organizations, universities and academic groups offered training in basic science policy and advocacy for upper-class undergraduates and graduate students. The annual three-and-a-half-day CASE program provides workshops on effective communication, the federal budget and appropriations process, and policymaking. Afterward, students meet with their congressional representatives.

U.S. and Cuban Scientists Team Up to Combat Cancer

In 2014, a year before the U.S. normalized relations with Cuba, AAAS and the Cuban Academy of Sciences signed a historic agreement to promote scientific cooperation among researchers in the two countries. In May, leading cancer researchers and their Cuban counterparts participated in a two-day symposium — co-organized by the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy — where they discussed Cuban advances in immunotherapy cancer treatments and other topics. During an earlier 2015 meeting, the countries also discussed plans for collaborations in neuroscience. Participants at both meetings made plans to bring Cuban biomedical research fellows to the U.S. to share knowledge about neuroscience and cancer research.

U.S. and Cuba Team Up!

In May, leading cancer researchers and their Cuban counterparts participated in a two-day symposium co-organized by the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy.

Northeast Asia Trip Bolsters Cooperation

AAAS CEO Rush Holt and Chief International Officer Tom Wang made a weeklong trip to Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul in November to promote scientific collaborations and research that benefits the public in those countries and the region. Holt stressed that scientists need to be more open with the public to help restore the public’s trust in science.

7 Days of International Collaboration 

AAAS CEO Rush Holt and Chief International Officer Tom Wang made a weeklong trip to Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul to promote scientific collaborations and research that benefits the public in those countries.

Science Diplomacy in Iran

The U.S. and Iran do not have formal diplomatic relations, making scientific diplomacy between the two countries especially valuable. In September, AAAS hosted a meeting of science diplomats with the leader of the German Academic Science Exchange Service, Dennis Schroeder, who set up an office in Tehran in 2013. Schroeder said that scholarships and other academic exchange programs provide important opportunities for Iranians, especially women, but that it is important to reciprocate and send experts into the country as well.

During a session at the AAAS Science Diplomacy 2016 conference held in May, panelists said the challenges Iran faces, including energy shortages, access to clean water and medical treatments, can be opportunities for international engagement while improving its residents’ lives. Alex Dehgan, former chief scientist at USAID, said that science diplomacy should be structured to benefit all parties, and that international research partners could learn from Iran’s strong science and technology sectors.

Science & Diplomacy

Issues such as relationship building, health diplomacy, international research and large-scale infrastructures are explored in this quarterly online journal, providing an important forum for scholars, practitioners and others interested in science diplomacy.