Careers in Public Policy
Note: many of
the career opportunities in public policy in the U.S. are in Washington
D.C., so a willingness to relocate can be critical for this career.
Why Public Policy?
Gregory E. van der Vink of the Incorporated Research Institutions
of Seismology explains the importance of having scientists choose
careers in Public Policy in his editorial in Science (May 97)
Illiterate vs. Politically Clueless." (Note: you may
access this article for free at the Science Magazine website,
but a password is needed, which requires registration.)
for Science, Technology, and Congress. As part of the AAAS's Directorate
for Science Policy Programs, the CSTC's role is to "provide
timely, objective information to Congress on current science and
technology issues and assists the science and engineering community
in understanding and working with Congress." The Center's
online bulletin, Science
& Technology in Congress is published 8 times yearly.
Each issue contains a half dozen 1-2 page stories about science
and technology issues currently before the U.S. Congress. You
can also check on the status of major sci-tech related legislation.
AAAS also sponsors an annual meeting
on U.S. science and technology policy.
policy makers. Read descriptions of the public policy careers
of five scientists at Science magazine's NextWave
web site. (Note: the NextWave web site will charge for access
effective Sept 1998.)
does a molecular biologist get to be a science policy advisor?
Fellowships and Internships
Council Science and Technology Policy Graduate Student/Postdoctorate
Internship Program. Ten-week summer program for graduate and
postdoc level scientists in the sciences and social sciences.
Recipients receive $3500 stipends for their summer stint in Washington
D.C. at the NRC. Internships are often assigned in a field other
than the applicant's specialty. Approximately 20 internships are
awarded annually. Postdoc applicants need to be within five years
of receiving their Ph.D.s.
for Science, Technology, and Congress. Internships in science
policy are sometimes listed at the CPST site, which is described
for Scientists and Engineers. AAAS offers fellowships for
Ph.D.s in six different areas: Congressional, Diplomacy, Risk
Assessment, Technology Policy, Defense Policy, and Environmental.
Fellowships are for one year (except for the 10 week summer Environmental
program) at various governmental agencies in Washington D.C. Diplomacy
fellows, for example, spend their year at either the Department
of State or the Agency for International Development. Stipends
range from $42,000-$47,000 per year. The fellowship programs are
"designed to provide each Fellow with a unique public policy
learning experience; to make practical contributions to the more
effective use of scientific and technical knowledge in the U.S.
government; and to demonstrate the value of science and technology
in solving important societal problems."
Comment: these fellowships can really be the ticket to making
a career change into public policy. I have talked with a half
dozen former fellows in the AAAS program, and after their one
year fellowship was up all were able either to retain their positions
or find another policy position in Washington because of the
contacts they had made during their year on the job. Fellows
stressed repeatedly that a key benefit of the fellowship was
the contacts in the policy world that they were able to make.
Many scientific societies have public policy programs that provide
scientific and technical information relating to their disciplines
to government officials. Their public policy web sites can have
links of use to scientists in specific disciplines considering
careers in public policy.
Policy Page of the American Astronomical Association.
Program of the American Geological Institute.
Program of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Policy Page of the American Mathematical Society.
Page of the American Physiological Society.
to Graduate Education in Science, Engineering and Public Policy.
If you want to do another degree, this AAAS resource provides
a good listing of graduate programs within the U.S. Unfortunately,
this page has severe flaws; many of the hyperlinks for the graduate
programs are not functional as of this writing (10/97).
A few programs:
Center for International
Science and Technology Policy at George Washington University.
Offers both M.A. and Ph.D. programs.
Program in Science,
Technology, and Public Policy at Princeton University. Offers
M.P.A. and Ph.D. degrees.
MIT Technology and Policy
Program. Offers M.S. degree that "prepares students for
practical work in government and industry."
Minnesota Institute of Public Affairs. M.S. degree in Science
and Technology Policy.
Last updated September 21, 2000.