Why Get Involved with Advocacy?
There has never been a better or more critical time for scientists and educators to encourage our legislators to increase investment in research at our nation's premier science agencies and improve math and science education at the K-12 and university level.
In the words of ACS Past-President Katie Hunt, “Chemistry is at a crossroads. Globalization is upon us, and there is no turning back. Our challenge is how to keep our nation strong in an increasingly global marketplace. Strengthening the roots of American innovation and competitiveness—education, basic research, and a business environment to drive innovation—is how we as a nation will meet this challenge.” This is the message ACS local sections can bring to Congress.
It’s Your Right as a Citizen
You have the right to make your concerns known to elected officials. You can do this by writing a letter, making a phone call, or meeting one-on-one with a public official. The most important element in influencing public policy is sincerity and belief in what you want to happen. If your members of Congress and state legislators don’t hear from you, they won’t know you care about an issue.
Most members of Congress and state legislators do not have the academic background or expertise to make decisions on complex scientific issues. They want to be educated, and they want to know your opinion.
It’s Your Responsibility as a Scientist
As chemists, chemical engineers, and allied professionals, ACS members work every day to improve the nation’s understanding of science and enhance the public’s quality of life.
With all of these professional responsibilities, it is easy to forget about your civic responsibility: sharing your knowledge with government to inform policies that affect the public and your profession. These include funding for university research, regulatory actions, and science education standards for your schools, among other things.
The U.S. Congress and state legislatures, like most governmental bodies, are comprised of attorneys and business people, with a smattering of other professions. There are very few scientists, and, more specifically, chemists, serving in public office; policies that impact your profession are in the hands of people who know very little about science. This reality alone ought to motivate chemical professionals to become more involved in the political process.
Each year, Congress and state legislatures throughout the country consider thousands of bills and few of us realize the impact many of them may have on our professional lives. The president and governors put forth agendas. Agency staff members grapple with policy implementation and regulatory issues. Decisions about science education policy, the environment, research, technology, employment, and other areas of concern are made in Washington, D.C. and your state capital daily.
Do not assume that someone else will speak up. No one else can speak about science and chemistry as well as you can. Get involved!