Now that we have Marched for Science, what’s next for science advocacy in Boston?

          It is an unprecedented time for science enthusiasm. Last fall science was barely mentioned in the election. We know because we wrote a blog post about it and had a hard time digging up any mention of science by the candidates. Now over a million people marched for for science on April 22nd in around 500 locations worldwide. But one recurring anxiety that people discussing the march are having is – what now? We don’t want to go the way of other grassroots movements, and have all this enthusiasm fizzle and not be directed. Luckily, Cambridge and Boston are teeming with new groups and enthusiasm for science advocacy. Let’s get organized and connect you to projects and action items that fit your schedule and peak your passion.

          Academics for the Future of Science (AFS) and Future of Research (FoR) are two grassroots science policy non-profit organizations run by early-career scientists. We research science policy, hold meetings to discuss policy and advocacy, and engage science supporters in advocacy. In partnership with March for Science Boston, we are offering some easy ways to continue to bring more science and evidence-based policy into the world after the March:

  • Sign up for science advocacy with AFS. We will do the work for you and with 3 minutes of your time each year, you can make a huge difference in advocating for science. We have researched the best strategies for advocating and will only email you twice a year when you will be most effective. You can rest easy that you have done your part.
  • Write a letter to your representatives right now in just a few seconds with the user friendly AFS email tool. Use the pre-filled letter about the latest science advocacy issues or customize your message for more impact.
  • Get involved with a local science advocacy group. Sign up here to attend our meta meeting of more than 15 local science advocacy groups including AFS and the Boston March for Science. These groups are doing everything from forming strong bonds with MA legislators, to creating better online advocacy tools, to outreach into communities and schools, to writing articles for the media, to trying to get scientists elected to office, to engaging with artists. We would love to have you join us to continue to fight for science.
  • March for Science Week of Action. Participate in a full week of action items this week.
  • Tell your story (#scienceserves). Why are science, medicine, and technology important to you? Send your story to story@marchforscience.com. Stories are what changes policy. Politicians use stories to make their points and shape legislation.
  • Attend a FoR (or an AFS/FoR) meeting. These local meetings are run by junior scientists in association with non-profit organizations. They are grassroots and action-oriented, and you can meet other people that are enthusiastic about bringing more science into the world. The next Boston meeting will be Fall 2017. Stay tuned on the AFS facebook page for more details.
  • Donate to AFS, to FoR, and to March for Science Boston. If you want to help keep this movement going, donating a few dollars each year or whatever you can give to these non-profit volunteer-run organizations will go a long way.
  • Write a blog post or an article for the lay press. Is there an issue you are passionate about related to science? Reach out to AFS (info@save-science.org) to post as a guest blogger or have us help connect you to media outlets. Often the best way to speak to the government is through the media. It’s surprisingly effective.
  • Become an AFS representative at your school or University: Are you an early-career scientist or considering becoming one? Contact AFS at info@save-science.org to become an AFS representative at your school or University and help spread the word about science advocacy. Creating a community with wide-reach is very important and you can be a big part of that.
  • Are you a scientist or former scientist? Participate in surveys through AFS and FoR so that we can relay accurate information to the public, the government, and the media about people’s opinions and experiences surrounding science issues. This will help us support and improve science. Some current surveys are here, and here, and sign up to our email list for more news.
  • Join the AFS (@SaveScience), FoR (@FORsymp), March for Science (@ScienceMarchDC) and March for Science Boston (@Mrch4ScienceBOS) Facebook and Twitter groups to keep current with science policy issues, legislation, and calls for action.

Co-written by Christin Glorioso, MD PhD (President of AFS) and Gary McDowell, PhD (Executive Director of  FoR).

About AFS and FoR

AFS:

Academics for the Future of Science is a non-profit science advocacy organization established by early-career scientists at MIT. We create innovative advocacy tools, research science advocacy and policy issues, and connect scientists to the public, the media, and policy makers. Science is a cornerstone of the US innovation economy. It is the basis for new technologies and medical therapies and creates millions of jobs. Over the last 40 years, US academic science has become increasingly less of a political priority and relatedly, has become more inefficient. Funding is at a 40-year low, there are many more PhD graduates than jobs, PhDs are spending more time in postdoctoral appointments, and we are failing to connect to the public. Time and resources are being wasted fighting for funding, over-training, not integrating well enough with the private sector, and not sharing resources. Science is also increasingly not part of the political dialogue. This climate has motivated us to take action. We realized that scientists need to have a bigger voice, both in policymaking and in interacting with the public. We need to forge new connections between the academic and industrial sectors. And most importantly, we need to create a transparent and open community that allows us to have an ongoing dialogue about the future of US science and innovation. Having clear, simple, and effective advocacy strategies to empower science supporters is key to our mission.

FoR:

The Future of Research (FoR) is a nonprofit that aims to improve the way scientists are trained in the 21st century by giving young scientists a voice in the future of research. By representing junior scientists, through grassroots advocacy, we hope to promote positive systemic change to the way we do science. We help junior scientists organize conferences to discuss how to create and sustain an optimal scientific enterprise. We then translate these promising solutions towards a reality, working with and advocating to institutions, science societies, federal agencies and senior scientists to effect change – and to ensure the voices of those who will be scientists of the future are heard.

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