ASTC’s President and CEO, Christofer Nelson, has expressed thanks to the Chair and Ranking Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and its Subcommittee on Research and Technology for their recent introduction of the National Science Foundation for the Future Act.
As described in a previous blog post, this legislation, which would provide reauthorization for the National Science Foundation (NSF), includes a number of provisions that would advance support for public engagement with science.
The text of the letter follows (download as a PDF):
May 4, 2020
Dear Chairwoman Johnson, Ranking Member Lucas, Chairwoman Stevens, and Ranking Member Waltz,
On behalf of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), we are writing in support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Future Act and to thank you for your leadership in drafting this legislation with the broad and inclusive input of the communities who work with NSF. We applaud your commitment to increasing funding for scientific research, broadening participation in science, and strengthening STEM education and workforce training.
We would like to especially thank you for including such clear language on the importance of public engagement with science in the National Science Foundation for the Future Act and commend you for including provisions that will help ensure all Americans can learn about, participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the science and technology that NSF funds.
ASTC is the membership organization for science and technology centers and museums in all 50 states and in nearly 50 countries around the world, all committed to increasing understanding of—and engagement with—science and technology among all people. In an average year, our network of nearly 700 science centers and museums, and allied organizations, serve more than 110 million visitors annually, including over 75 million in the United States.
In addition to serving as institutions that regularly engage the public in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, our community works to advance lifelong science learning, connect science and society, engage diverse audiences, and partner to solve local and global challenges. Among the most trusted organizations in their communities, ASTC members—and other organizations committed to public engagement with science—are increasingly serving as conveners and catalysts for their community to come together to address local, national, and global priorities.
We especially appreciate the importance of grounding the work of the proposed new NSF Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions in robust connections with the public, including the establishment of formal avenues for public input; deep consideration of ethical, legal, and societal issues in setting the priorities for the Directorate; and the development of innovative approaches to connect research with societal outcomes and education and training for students and researchers on engaging with the public.
ASTC is grateful for your efforts to ensure that the Broader Impacts review criterion is meeting its objectives across the Foundation, including the opportunity to enhance training on these issues for merit review panelists and NSF program officers, establish clearinghouses for sharing best practices, and develop tools for evaluating and documenting the societal impacts of research.
We also appreciate the clear language on the need to provide support for developing effective strategies for public and community engagement in all stages of the research and development process, research on the development and implementations of effective social strategies and tools for mitigating and adapting to climate change, and the training current and future climate change researchers on the importance of community engagement and science communication. Finally, we are grateful for the bill language stressing the need to incorporate ethical, social, safety, and security issues into the research design and review process across the Foundation.
ASTC and our community of organizations committed to public engagement with science stands ready to work with the Committee to advance this important work.
President and CEO
Association of Science and Technology Centers
cc: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee staff