MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

2011

Sc i en c e Po li c y I n i ti ati ve
Changing how scientists & engineers at MIT engage with policymakers and the public
Mission The Science Policy Initiative (SPI): POLICY LUNCHEONS Students learn from policy experts in an informal setting POLICY NEWS CHAT Monthly discussions on science policy topics in the news CONGRESSIONAL VISITS Students advocate for R&D funding on Capitol Hill AGENCY VISITS Students explore the federal science agencies on-site POLICY BOOTCAMP IAP course introducing students to science policy COMMUNICATION WORKSHOPS Teaching MIT researchers to communicate their science to the public OUTREACH Encouraging scientists & engineers at MIT to engage beyond the lab, and promoting SPI as a model nationwide ALUMNI MENTORING Matching students with MIT alumni working in science & technology policy POLICY EDUCATION Working to implement a science policy certificate program for PhD students at MIT
THE MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE
✦ Provides

education in the policies governing research and innovation how science & engineering can inform policy decisions direct engagement in the science policy arena

5 schools at MIT. SPI members are mostly graduate students, with representation from fellows, post-docs, undergraduates, faculty, and staff. Organization SPI is organized and run entirely by students. Students raise funds, develop the group’s mission, plan events, lead new directives, recruit new members, and cultivate relationships with supporters. SPI’s organizational structure has developed to keep pace with the group’s rapid growth. In 2011, SPI established a formal executive committee, composed of President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Media Director. SPI’s leadership team also includes chairs who provide focused leadership on our cornerstone programs: Congressional Visits, Bootcamp, Policy Luncheons, Alumni Relations, and Outreach. new structure will help fulfill its mission while maintaining a highly collaborative and inclusive approach to managing projects. SPI Leadership, 2011—2012 Johanna Wolfson, President Daniel Chavas, Vice President Nathaniel Schafheimer, Secretary Nicole Casasnovas, Treasurer Jennifer Rood, Media Director David Healey, Bootcamp Chair Katherine Saad, Alumni Relations Chair Patrick Wen, Congressional Co-chair Ross Collins, Congressional Co-chair Sam Brinton, Outreach & Social Chair
web.mit.edu/spi
SPI’s

✦ Explores

✦ Facilitates

Background SPI formed in 2006 to address the lack of science policy exposure in the graduate curriculum at MIT. That year, Science Policy Bootcamp emerged, and with it, the first leaders of SPI. Congressional visits were added in 2007 as a “learn-through-practice” model, followed by the Lunch Speaker Seminar Series. SPI became a formal MIT student group in 2007, sponsored by William Bonvillian, Director of the MIT office in Washington, DC. Since then, SPI has rapidly expanded both its membership and activities. It is now the primary avenue for students on campus to explore and engage the science policy arena. Membership SPI currently has 370 members from MIT and elsewhere. 50 of those members are actively involved in SPI meetings and event organization. Since Se ptember 2010, active membership has increased by 50% and total membership has more than tripled. serves members from over 25 departments and centers and across all
SPI

MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
INVESTOR NEWSLETTER ISSUE N°3

FALL 2011 JULY 2009

LUNCH DISCUSSION SERIES
Learning from the Experts in an Informal Setting
Our science policy lunch series facilitates friendly, informal discussion between MIT students and science policy experts—from faculty and government policy-makers to professionals in industry and non-profits. Once or twice per month, students are exposed to a wide variety of policy topics and career options, and gain the unique opportunity to discuss pressing policy matters with the experts in a relaxed environment. Invited speakers discuss their personal involvement with science policy—their motivation for involvement, ongoing participation, and insight into areas of future importance— and address the group’s questions. We arrange between four and six lunches per semester. Attendance is typically 15–25 students and post-docs. The discussions educate SPI members as well as the broader MIT community, and serve as an important SPI recruitment tool. Additionally, lunch discussions are a low-barrier introduction to science policy for students with moderate or highly specific policy interests. Topics vary widely from one event to the next, so students have the opportunity to learn broadly about many topics and careers. We always welcome suggestions for future lunch speakers from our attendees so that the series can continue to be most useful for interested students. At a typical lunch, we host students from a wide range of disciplines. Students appreciate the rare opportunity to meet with peers from across the Institute and engage in crossdisciplinary discussions about socio-technical challenges. Enthusiastic attendance by SPI members and nonmembers, and its continued success in bringing new members to SPI, defines the success of this series. Speakers have suggested colleagues as candidates for future events, indicating their strong support for the series.

RECENT LUNCH GUESTS
Charles Caldart, MIT Dept. of Civil Engineering and Director of Litigation at NELC, presented on scientific expert testimony and careers in environmental law (Sept. 2011). Robert Paarlberg, Wellesley Professor of Political Science, discussed the state of agricultural technology use in Africa (Sept. 2011). Tavneet Suri, MIT Professor of Applied Economics, spoke on technology adoption and mobile money (June 2011). Subrata Ghoshroy, MIT Science,Technology, and Society Program Research Associate, discussed the dependence of academic R&D on military funding (May 2011). Cynthia Robinson, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowships Director, shared with students the many opportunities available to AAAS fellows (May 2011). Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Director of Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard’s Belfer Center, shared his vision of the research ecosystem needed for innovative growth (April 2011). Lars Friberg, Swedish Embassy Office of Science & Innovation, discussed challenges of diplomacy in energy and climate. (March 2011). John Savage, Professor of Computer Science, Brown University, discussed cyber-security issues (March 2011). Daniel Hastings, MIT Dean and Aero-Astro Professor, provided insight about his former role as US Air Force chief scientist (February 2011). Robert Jaffe, MIT Professor of Physics, spoke on his recent Energy-Critical Materials study (February 2011). Bina Venkataraman, Senior Policy Advisor at the Broad Institute, described her science journalism career and her recent work with PCAST (November 2010). Lisabeth Gronlund, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists, discussed the current state of nuclear web.mit.edu/spi

THE MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE

MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE

2011

SCIENCE POLICY BOOTCAMP
CONNECTING POLICY AND INNOVATION Science Policy Bootcamp bridges the gap between researchfocused graduate education and the underlying policy framework that supports it by educating students about how policy shapes the science and technology innovation system.

What is Bootcamp? Science Policy Bootcamp is a week-long IAP course that introduces students to the development and practice of federal science policy. Several lectures and student-led discussions cover the organizing principles and drivers of innovation systems, including growth economics, the policy-making behind US science agencies, and current challenges for the science and technology innovation systems. This compact and intensive course fills a gap in the formal graduate curriculum and provides an accessible means for graduate students to reflect upon broad issues of science in society. The course is taught by Bill Bonvillian, director of the MIT Washington DC office. Panel discussion Bootcamp concludes with an interactive panel discussion focused on a current issue in federal science policy. In 2011, the panel explored the role of univer sities in commercializing technology and was chaired by Vice

President for Research and Associate Provo s t Clau d e Can i z ares w i th representatives from MIT’s Deshpande Center, Entrepreneurship Center, and Technology Licensing Office. Participation Bootcamp targets students in science or engineering who have limited science policy backgrounds. Since its inception in 2006, nearly 200 participants—undergraduate and graduate students and post-docs from a diverse cross-section of MIT’s academic programs—have attended. In January 2011, SPI Bootcamp expanded to include 44 participants (35 graduate, 4 undergraduate, 2 alumni, 1 post-doc, and 2 from other area schools) from 17 academic disciplines. Impact Bootcamp plays a crucial role in filling a gap in the for malized education. Students say Bootcamp is: “…extremely useful in particular for those who haven't had much policy exposure to the implications of their research”

“…exceptional at explaining the thought process behind the research systems in the U.S.” Many participants join SPI after the Bootcamp course to continue their engagement in science policy issues— Bootcamp remains our primary tool for recruiting new members. Beyond MIT Bootcamp was recently introduced on MIT O pen C ourse W are. In the future, we hope to add video of Bootcamp class lectures to OCW. Student policy groups at the Univer sity of Washington and University of Colorado have expressed strong interest in developing similar c o u r s e s, u s i n g S c i e n c e Po l i c y Bootcamp at MIT as a model. Funding SPI has received a Graduate Student Life Grant through ODGE and Dean Christine Ortiz for $1,900 annually to fund Bootcamp for 45 students.

THE MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE

web.mit.edu/spi

MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
INVESTOR NEWSLETTER ISSUE N°3

FALL 2011 JULY 2009

CONGRESSIONAL VISITS DAY
SHARING INSIGHTS AND GAINING EXPERIENCE IN COMMUNICATING SCIENCE SPI members take part in the Congressional Visits Day (CVD) program to engage directly in the policy-making process by conveying the importance of science and technology funding to elected representatives. Students get valuable first-hand experience in relaying their understanding of their work and the process of scientific research to an interested lay audience. The ability to communicate the value of scientific research effectively is key to positively influencing policy decisions. Advocating for Science on Capitol Hill During Congressional Visits Day (CVD), a network of industrial and academic research associations and professional scientists and engineers convene in Washington, DC to discuss science and technology policy issues with their Senators and Representatives.
SPI participants receive training from both MIT DC office staff and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on how to effectively advocate for science. Students then meet with Congressional members and staffers to advocate for the importance of science funding, discuss our research at MIT, and establish ongoing discussions with the Representatives and Senators from their home districts.

to meet with both Republican (42%) and Democratic (58%) members. Impact on the Hill We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the staffers we have met with in the past. Staffers often remark that hearing from student researchers helps them better understand the importance of federally-funded science.
SPI strives to develop relationships and an ongoing dialogue with targeted members of Congress. In Spring 2011, SPI students initiated repeated advocacy measures to push for Senator Scott Brown’s support of America COMPETES. This focused advocacy effort was inspired directly by a congressional meeting on the Hill, and it showed engaged students that they could make a difference.

History SPI has attended CVD annually since 2006, enabling 60 MIT students so far to advocate for science funding on the Hill. SPI’s delegation to CVD is unique. While most groups are professional societies or academic administrators, we are the only self-organized group comprised entirely of students from a wide variety of geographic backgrounds. This allows us to meet with far more congressional offices and to change our pool each year. Since 2009, SPI’s delegation has grown from 12 to 20 students, and the number of meetings held during our visit has increased from 13 to 34. Also since 2009, SPI has engaged the offices of 55 members from 19 states on science and technology policy issues and science advocacy. From each chamber, we seek

Impact on Students CVD is a critical embodiment of SPI’s mission and helps to increase the membership of SPI by providing Bootcamp participants with practical experience in science policy. Many CVD participants have become leaders of the SPI community. “I left feeling energized, informed—a little more cynical—and thinking that this was by far the most important thing I could have been doing.” Nicholas MacFarlane, G1 Biological Oceanography “…[B]y thinking about how to communicate my work to people with little knowledge of what I do, I am reminded of the wideranging implications of our research work, both technologically as well as societally. CVD is an eye-opening experience.” Hiro Miyake, G4 Physics
web.mit.edu/spi

THE MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE

MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE
INVESTOR NEWSLETTER ISSUE N°3

FALL 2009 JULY 2011

Communication & Outreach
A range of communication and outreach activities foster citizen scientists at MIT and across the US.
Orientation: Reaching Incoming Students As graduate students enter MIT to pursue new frontiers of scientific research, we want them to be inspired about their potential for impact beyond the lab. Many students learn about options for policy involvement during their third year or later. In Fall 2011, SPI, made a concerted effort to reach new students, and increased its membership by 75%. faculty members spoke on their involvement in policy as scientists and engineers, and SPI and other policyrelated student groups introduced policy-related activities at MIT. An annual SPI orientation event will continue to draw on fresh interest each fall.
MIT

Science, Technology, and Policy Crossroads is dedicated to enhancing the connections among Boston-area science policy groups. Science, Technology, and Policy Crossroads is composed of representatives from SPI, TPP, and STS at MIT, and various organizations and programs at Harvard, Tufts, and Boston Universities.
SPI

The second annual Crossroads Symposium was held in March 2011 at the Broad Institute, with a focus on biotechnology policy. A faculty panel and breakout sessions were followed by a networking session. Crossroads hopes to gradually grow the symposium to a national conference, and SPI is proud to be involved in its efforts. National Science Policy Conferences To extend our reach beyond Boston, six SPI members attended the 2011 AAAS Annual Meeting and presented a poster on the mission, activities, and structure of SPI as a model for student organizations at other institutions. Conference attendance served as a new avenue for networking nationally with students with similar interests. We introduced SPI to many in the science policy community and thereby showcased MIT as a strong supporter of students’ engagement in society and policy. We hope to continue sending members to national conferences to advance the mission of SPI and raise visibility for MIT’s commitment to sound science policy. MIT Science Policy Initiative as a model can serve as a model to other institutions, exemplifying MIT’s support for scientists engaged in society. To date, SPI has been consulted for advice on group formation at Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, Cornell University, and Chapman College.
SPI

Science Communication Workshops Since 2010, SPI has held two annual workshops to help science and engineering students improve their ability to communicate science with policy-makers and the public. Ahead of our congressional visits, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) hosted SPI members for a crash course in science communication to policy-makers. Open to the MIT community, SPI-organized Science Writing Workshops improve the communication skills of scientists and engineers. Past workshop directors have been Knight Journalism Fellow Chris Mooney and Professor Tom Levenson of MIT’s Science Writing Program. The Science Writing Program has recently expressed a desire to turn the workshop into a regular IAP course offering. We hope to make these workshops more frequently available to serve a larger portion of the MIT community. Cross-Departmental Outreach is comprised of members from across the Institute, consistent with our mission to understand and address interdisciplinary challenges. To bring events to the MIT community, we collaborate with departments and programs —including the Career Center, TPP, PSC, and EAPS. In turn, this practice allows SPI to expand its visibility on campus.
SPI

Additionally, SPI is in communication with the Forum on Science Ethics & Policy and the American Association of Universities to establish a nationwide network of student science advocates. SPI is poised to be a nationwide leader in the engagement of students in science policy.
web.mit.edu/spi

THE MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE

MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
INVESTOR NEWSLETTER ISSUE N°3

FALL 2011 JULY 2009

FUTURE INITIATIVES
Expanding Opportunities, Adding Value to Education
Since 2007, the MIT Science Policy Initiative has grown significantly. As we seek to better serve our student members, there are three areas into which we plan to expand while continuing to improve and grow our core programs. Science Agency Visits Starting in Fall 2011, SPI will organize and fund a student visit to federal science agencies. The three-day trip will provide 10–15 students with the opportunity to learn how the various science agencies are structured, and to explore career possibilities within them. Plans are underway to visit NSF, NIH, DOE, DOD, as well as OSTP and OMB during the inaugural year of the program. The visit will kick off with a session from the MIT DC office staff, as they provide background on the agencies and their purviews. Students will then make agency visits in groups of 6–10. During each agency visit, students will receive a briefing from a high-level official and then meet with MIT alumni and/or AAAS fellows working at the agency for informal questions and discussion. Such an opportunity is not currently available to science and engineering graduate students. We believe it is crucial for emerging scientists to have a working knowledge of the federal science policy structure, and providing a means for exploring the agencies is an important step toward that goal. Alumni Mentoring SPI will form databases of former SPI members and of MIT alumni currently working in policy-related fields. Established, regular communication with alumni working in policy will provide networking opportunities and a wealth of career information for our student members. We have begun developing a mentorship program with the MIT Alumni Association. We plan to match students interested in policy careers with an alumnus working in the students’ interest area for informal mentorship. SPI will facilitate mentor-mentee interactions by holding networking events during Washington visits. Science Policy Certificate Program SPI seeks to demonstrate interest in and promote the establishment of a Science Policy Certificate Program at MIT for science and engineering graduate students. No such program currently exists for PhD students with strong policy interests, though other institutions have notable programs of this kind. SPI leadership will work with the MIT administration to pursue this option.
THE MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE

THANK YOU
SPI gratefully acknowledges support from our generous donors: Dean of Engineering Dean Ian Waitz Dean of Science Dean Marc Kastner Dean of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences Dean Deborah Fitzgerald MIT Public Service Center Vice President for Research & Associate Provost Professor Claude Canizares Dean of Graduate Education Graduate Student Life Grant Dean Christine Ortiz Dept. of Political Science Professor Richard Locke, Head Dean for Student Life Dean Chris Colombo Dean for Undergraduate Education Dean Daniel Hastings MIT Graduate Student Council Student Activities Office

web.mit.edu/spi

MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE

2011

Budget
Event/Program

Projected Expenses: July 2011—June 2012
Attendance 60 – 80 Amount $700

Fall Orientation (NEW) At our fall orientation event incoming students will learn how to get involved in science policy issues at MIT through faculty speakers and student group introductions. Science Agency Visits (NEW) This exclusive SPI program will allows students to learn about science & technology policy at US government agencies. Students will travel to Washington, DC for briefings about agency structure, priorities, and career opportunities at NSF, NIH, DOE, DOD, OSTP, and OMB. Science Policy Bootcamp This four-day IAP course introduces students and post-doctoral fellows to the fundamental structure and dynamics of science policy. Congressional Visits Day (CVD) SPI joins hundreds of scientists and engineers to advocate for science & engineering research support with our representatives in Congress. SPI prides itself on being the only studentorganized delegation during CVD. Science Writing Workshop SPI hosts this special workshop to improve communication between the scientific community and the general public. National Policy Conference Members travel to a national conference on science and technology policy to present SPI as a model for student organizations, giving MIT widespread exposure. We hope to make conference attendance an annual or biennial event. Outreach SPI hosts social events and special programs aimed at strengthening collaborations between individuals and student groups in the greater Boston area with an interest in science policy. Lunch Discussion Series SPI organizes 1–2 lunches per month where members of the MIT community and the greater Boston area can gather to discuss science and technology policy and related careers. Each lunch features a special guest and focuses on a general area of discussion. Policy News Chat SPI holds a monthly student-led discussion on science policy topics in the news. Discussions are scheduled with our monthly meetings to encourage new members’ participation. Administrative Costs SPI’s growth in the last year has prompted changes in our organization and management methods. Costs include membership survey, project management tools, and printing.

8 – 10

$2,500

40 – 50

$1,900

18 – 20

$4,500

20 – 30

$400

5–8

$2,500

20 – 30

$500

15 – 20

$2,400

10 – 15

$500

— TOTAL:

$600 $16,500

THE MIT SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE

web.mit.edu/spi

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