Greetings from Washington DC! Gifford, Alexandra and I are in the capitol for a 10 day crash course on science policy that is hosted by the American Meteorological Society.
We have joined 33 other participant to learn the fundamentals of science policy, meet with experts, and learn through hands-on exercises.
The participants make for a dynamic group. We have a very wide variety of backgrounds, including: grad students, post-docs, climate modeling research scientists, social scientists studying climate and extreme weather, a science education expert, professional forecasters, and NOAA administrators. The diversity of experiences and perspectives make for lively discussions during our meetings and interesting conversations during breaks and over meals.
What is science policy anyway? In short, it captures two key concepts: (1) “science for policy,” meaning science that is used to assist or improve policy decisions, and (2) “policy for science,” meaning policy that determines how to fund or structure the systematic pursuit of knowledge (science!). For instance, science for policy includes carbon models that are used to project future greenhouse gas emissions and the risk that our activities pose for the future. On the other hand, policy for science determines how much money is given to science and technology and how it is prioritized among areas of research.
After morning presentations and discussions, we spent the first two afternoons of the Colloquium visiting Capitol Hill for meetings with staffers and experts in the Senate and House of Representatives.
It is exciting to be around people who are learning and talking about science policy. More than anything, these first days of science policy “boot camp” have taught me that there is so much more to learn about how policy and politics(!) are connected to science.