As the nation’s political leaders negotiated the future of the federal budget in 2011, a student group at MIT (Science Policy Initiative, SPI) entered the debate with a petition calling on members of Congress to preserve federal investment in research and development. They posted a letter on their website along with a youtube video urging congress not to incur any cuts to federally funded scientific research. They called this campaign “Stand With Science.”
“As scientists, we tend to think our science speaks for itself, but it doesn’t,” says Johanna Wolfson, SPI president and a doctoral student in the MIT Department of Chemistry. “We have to recognize that and learn to speak for the importance of our research. That’s what this letter is about—not only getting scientists and engineers to answer the questions, ‘What has R&D done for the U.S.? What will it do for its future?’ but also to believe that it’s their job to answer those questions. Those are the questions that matter to taxpayers and the people writing the checks.”
The highly successful work of this Stand With Science campaign united over 10,000 students and their allies in a campaign to support federal science and engineering research funding. As Stand With Science continued to grow, there needed to be continued conversation on science policy issues to unify the voices of science, technology, and engineering students in matters of science policy. Thus, the National Science Policy Group (NSPG) was formed in Spring 2013.
Beginning with a few established student science policy groups and individuals interested starting science policy groups on their respective campuses, NSPG has now grown to over 50 different student groups across the country. Representing groups formed in the last month to those which have been active for several years, the NSPG students provide the best resource possible to each other: a shared interest to learn about and participate in the intersection of science and policy.
The National Science Policy Group was formed to serve as a platform to connect science policy groups, composed of graduate students, post-docs, and young researchers who are passionate about science and engineering policy. These groups are united by the shared mission of advocating for science and to promote scientific collaboration, policy group and professional development through sharing of scientific resources.