ESAL is a national organization dedicated to increasing local engagement by professionals with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Many engineers and scientists are interested in making a difference in their communities, but they don’t know how to get involved or overlook the important role that cities, counties, and states play in policy development and implementation. We hope to encourage and help STEM professionals to meaningfully engage with their local government and with community-oriented non-profit and volunteer organizations by sharing stories of how others have made a difference in their communities.
The first step
Draw inspiration from civic engagement stories shared by other engineers and scientists.
From the field
Get real-world advice from STEM professionals who successfully engaged with their local communities.
Not sure where to start? See our curated guide for more ideas.
We asked engineers and scientists about their attitudes toward and engagement with government. The results revealed a demand for capacity building and increased awareness of policy issues for local engagement by people with STEM backgrounds.
The survey was developed by organizing members of ESAL. Survey results are based on 113 complete survey responses that were collected between September 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. We distributed the survey via our personal and professional networks, including social media chanels aimed at engineers and scientists who have expressed interest in or have experience with government and policy work. Although the results likely reflect much higher levels of overall interest in and engagement with government than the general population of engineers and scientists, it allows us to look at the range of activities and opinions among those most interested in policy engagement. Read the full report here.
Interest in Local Engagement
The majority of engineers and scientists are interested in increasing their engagement with their local government.
Federal vs local
Most engineers and scientists feel more informed about federal policy issues as opposed to local issues.
Many engineers and scientists say they lack knowledge of how to get involved at a local level.
Change starts at home
And engineers and scientists have an important role to play
Not sure how to get started? Check out our Local Engagement Checklist for ideas!
LATEST BLOG POSTS
The Eagleton Institute of Politics – part of Rutgers University-New Brunswick – recently launched a science and politics fellowship that will allow PhD-level scientists and engineers to work on policy problems in New Jersey’s state government. Leaders from the Institute talk with ESAL about how fellows will support state policy-making efforts.
Computer scientist and physicist Dave Leichtman has been involved in political technology for over ten years. He helped build a tech volunteer group in his state to connect tech-savvy individuals with campaigns. Now, he is the vice chair for technology and communications of the Democratic Party of Virginia.
The Milwaukee Area Science Advocates (MASA) nonprofit grew out of the March for Science. MASA’s mission–to increase scientific enthusiasm, understanding, and legislative value in the Milwaukee area–is achieved through a strong relationship with the community.
After more than a decade conducting research in neuroscience labs, Julianne McCall received a California Council on Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, where she worked with the state senate and assembly to advise policymakers on key issues. After her Fellowship she accepted a full-time position with the Senate Office of Research. Her work now focuses on scientific research administration policy and public health policy.
The Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) is a nonprofit public-service institution that provides expert guidance to the state of Connecticut, fosters STEM education, and promotes discourse among the state’s technical communities. This year it launched a new Policy Fellowship that provides a scientist or engineer the chance to work on critical issues in the state’s executive branch.
Maria Robinson uses her background in chemical engineering as a policy expert for a clean energy trade association. She spoke to us about running as a write-in candidate for state representative in Framingham, Massachusetts.
The inaugural post of our “Local STEM” series features the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP). CUSP brings engineers and scientists together with city governments to tackle urban issues. We interviewed CUSP Executive Director Michael Holland to learn more about their work.
Introducing a new series about local government initiatives and non-governmental community organizations doing STEM-related work.