“We need everyone who cares about science to get involved, now more than ever” in public outreach and education, said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America during a presentation to researchers, students and academics at the University of Connecticut Health Center on December 16.
The presentation, titled “Your Role in Changing Hearts and Minds for Science,” was part of a seminar series organized by the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) and supported by a grant from the Kavli Foundation. CICATS is a partnership between the University of Connecticut, regional hospitals, state agencies, and community health care organizations.
According to a recent Research!America survey, 80% of Americans say it is important for elected officials to listen to scientists.
“Sadly, public policies often aren’t based on science,” said Woolley, adding that the reason for this is a lack of outreach on the part of scientists to elected officials. “If [lawmakers] don’t know who the science community is among their constituents, then why would they listen to them?”
Woolley discussed the importance of building relationships with the new Administration and Congress, urging scientists to find common ground with elected officials, such as the fact that both work to serve the public interest. “Engage emotions, put hearts before minds to make a connection” with policymakers, said Woolley, noting that scientists often are not trained to communicate that emotional aspect of their work.
Congressional passage of the 21st Century Cures bill “is proof that advocacy works,” Woolley said. She added that advocacy can take a long time to yield results, but that shouldn’t dissuade scientists from increasing their engagement with policymakers.
To watch a recording of the presentation, visit http://bit.ly/CICATS.