After the March: Taking the next steps to advocate for science

Get ready to make an appointment with your local congressional office

As an official partner of the March for Science, APA encouraged members to join the march in D.C. or in satellite cities worldwide.  While science did certainly get a boost from the excitement and energy of April 22, the march could only ever be the first half mile in a marathon. Building a relationship with your members of Congress, making sure they know how important peer review is, or funding for the National Science Foundation, THAT’S how real and longer lasting benefits can accrue for the U.S.’s science enterprise.

How do you get started? 

Weighing in with your Senators and Representative is easier than you might think, but preparing yourself can make the meeting more successful. If you have not already, start by watching the advocacy training that APA hosted ahead of the March for Science.  Set aside an hour and watch it with your colleagues or students.

With Memorial Day right around the corner, on May 29, members of Congress will be home in their districts. This is an excellent opportunity to reach out to your members’ local district offices. Check the website of your Representative or Senators to find the nearest local office. Before you call, have your schedule handy and be prepared to be flexible. Be sure to introduce yourself and briefly describe what you do and what you would like to discuss. For House members, ask for visits on Friday May 26, Tuesday May 30, or Wednesday May 31.  To meet with Senators, ask for Tuesday May 30, Wednesday May 31, Thursday June 1 or Friday June 2.  (The dates of the district recess are not the same for the House and Senate.) 

Once you’ve scheduled a visit to your local congressional office, email us and let us know! Then check out APA’s Science Advocacy Toolkit for tips and a helpful list of instructions to prepare you for your visit.

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What should you bring with you to your meeting?

We recommend that any psychologist who plans to visit her or his member of Congress first develop a one-pager.  A one-pager is a single page document that introduces you, your issue, and your research to the member of Congress or congressional staff. Your one-pager should include a brief description of your research including which federal agencies or institutes fund your work, why it is important and should be funded at the federal level, and all your contact information.  This ensures the member has an accurate description of your research and makes it possible for the office to follow up with you. 

In addition to your one pager, plan on passing along the APA Stand for Science briefing sheet which details our current legislative priorities. Also, bring a copy of your state’s science funding briefing sheet  which has specific information about NIH and NSF funding in your home state. We keep those items up-to-date, so all you have to do is print them from our advocacy toolkit.

APA’s Science Government Relations team is always ready to help and advise you. If you have questions or just need a last minute consult before you meet with your congressional representatives, write Geoff Mumford, Pat Kobor or Craig Fisher and we can schedule a phone call.

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What else can you do to advocate for science?

There are other ways you can interact with your member of Congress if you can’t schedule an individual appointment.  Follow your representatives on email, Twitter or Facebook so you know when they are going to appear near you. Attend a town hall meeting and ask your representative or senator about research funding. The Town Hall Project can help you to find town hall meetings in your area, but the information should be confirmed with you Member’s office in advance. Also, check out our simple how-to guides for calling and writing letters to your senators and representatives.

Remember, champions for the behavioral and social sciences are built one constituent at a time, one meeting at a time. Make your time with them count. Let’s work together to make more congressional champions for science.

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