AAAS CASE Workshop Teaches Students Strategies for Science Advocacy
For four days in March 2023, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) brought together 150 students from 26 states to Washington, D.C. for the Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) Workshop. Amongst this group were eight students and a senior staff researcher representing seven graduate programs and the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University. Despite such a wide-ranging group, all participants had one thing in common: a passion for science policy and advocacy.
Toby Smith, the Senior Vice President for Science Policy and Global Affairs with the Association of American Universities, began the event with a keynote speech. He posited that all politics are local politics – advocacy is most impactful in geographical areas where a personal connection is held. Senior Government Relations Officer, Sean Gallagher, along with materials from the JHU Office of Federal Strategy, prepared the students for their advocacy efforts with the reminder that policy is not only influenced by science but also by media, personal values, and the district of the politician. With this in mind, the Hopkins students and employees put the knowledge they gleaned from this workshop to practice by advocating for science on Capitol Hill.
Putting Knowledge into Practice by Going Local to Advocate for Science
Focusing locally, students met with Staffers for U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin of Maryland, as well as U.S. Congressman Glenn Ivy from the 4th District in Maryland. Student discussions with staffers focused on topics ranging from research on gun violence and how artificial intelligence research could be used identify food deserts in Maryland and Baltimore City, to the importance of increasing diversity in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce as a function of the CHIPS in Science Act. Additionally, the Hopkins participants met with Congressional Staff for the Research and Technology Subcommittee, where conversation emphasized the importance of funding for basic sciences like the planetary sciences.
When asked to reflect on the workshop, Dr. Stephanie Allen, a senior staff researcher with the Hopkins Applied Physics Lab said, “The CASE workshop gave me insight into how science interacts in the policy domain and provided some real-world guidance about how to communicate with policy makers. The Hill visits provided a way to start putting these lessons into action!”
Participants representing Johns Hopkins University included Krystal Wang from Bloomberg School of Public Health, Toheeb Oladimeji and Nisarg Shah from the Whiting School of Engineering, Holly Robinson from the School of Medicine, Sabrina Khan, Rasha Anayah, Sravanthi Polavarapu, and Terriyanna Bailey from the Kreiger School of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Stephanie Allen from the Applied Physics Lab. Travel, logistics, and training were supported by staff from the Professional Development and Career Office and PHutures.