After several years of stagnation, federal spending on science may be on the upswing. President Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal, released in February,
included increases for the National Science Foundation,
National Institutes of Health and Department of Veterans
Affairs, among other science-funding agencies. But those
funding requests must be approved by Congress.
As the appropriations process moves forward, psychologists
can help make sure behavioral and social science gets the
funding it deserves, says Heather O’Beirne Kelly, PhD, of APA’s
Science Government Relations Office, which manages APA’s
Stand for Science campaign. Initiated in February, the campaign
helps psychologists talk to their congressional representatives
about how psychological science benefits human health,
education and national security.
The Science Government Relations Office regularly leads
these types of advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., arranging
congressional meetings, holding advocacy training days and
webinars, and publishing resources on how to prepare an
effective research briefing. The office has also produced a new
online advocacy toolkit at http://advocacy.apascience.org.
The goal of the Stand for Science campaign is to more
nimbly respond to immediate legislative threats affecting
psychological science by quickly deploying advocacy-trained
scientists in their home states and districts.
The campaign aims to bring APA members face-to-face with
their representatives, in hometown offices or in campus labs, to
explain their research.
It’s much easier to schedule a visit with representatives
while they’re in their districts rather than in Washington, D.C.,
says William Starck, program manager. As of early 2015, 52
psychologists had visited 54 congressional offices. Although
most meetings have been with congressional staff, participating
psychologists have met with 21 representatives and two senators.
And visiting research labs can help politicians understand
and appreciate science. Thus far there have been 11 visits to
psychologists’ university-based research labs. “Though other
communications are important, that hands-on experience
brings research to life. Hopefully, representatives remember that
when it’s time to allocate resources. Our dream would be to
have a psychologist who advocates for science research in every
district,” Starck says.
Last summer, Bethany Teachman, PhD, hosted Rep. Robert
State by state,
An APA program is training advocates to explain to members of
Congress — in person — why psychology research is important.
By Stacy Lu • Monitor staff
To learn more about how you can
get involved in the campaign,
go to https://www.youtube.com/