The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is an independent nonprofit organization promoting scientific advocacy to solve global issues. As we welcome UCS as one of NSPN’s Allied Partner Organizations, Science Network Community & Partnerships Manager Melissa Varga shares the organization’s past, present, and future goals.
What is your organization's mission?
The Union of Concerned Scientists is a science advocacy nonprofit dedicated to using rigorous, independent science to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.
Within UCS, the Science Network is an inclusive community of more than 25,000 scientists, engineers, economists, public health specialists, and other experts across the country working to educate the public and inform decisions critical to our health, safety, and environment. The Science Network offers dynamic ways for scientists to transform their concerns into impactful action, to defend against attacks on science, and to embrace their roles as scientist constituents and leading advocates in their own communities.
What are some of your organization's current goals or projects? What are some recent or upcoming events?
UCS is actively taking steps to transform into an antiracist organization. We are committed to actively pursuing antiracism through our external work, as well as our internal structures, processes, and functions. You can see this reflected in all of our campaigns, from exploring the equity implications of transitioning to renewable energy, to collaborating with partners to work towards food justice and access to healthy food for all, to recognizing and addressing the disproportionate impacts of nuclear weapons, and drawing the connections between voting rights and science-based decision making. All scientists and science advocates can join us on these efforts through the Science Network.
Another major focus for us right now is making sure scientists are energized and equipped to engage with opportunities to push for equitable, science-based policy now that we have a new administration and new Congress. The science community has made a tremendous impact in pushing back against attacks on science over the past four years, and now is the time for us to hold our elected officials accountable to their promises to listen to the scientists. From implementing scientific integrity policies at federal agencies to integrating environmental justice and equity into all of the administration’s priorities, there is a lot to be optimistic about—but that also means we have a lot to advocate for, to make sure these promises turn into action.
If you’re ready to take action, we want to support you! Right now we are offering mini grants of up to $750 through the Science for Public Good Fund for online advocacy actions, digital community building, or other efforts to advance equitable science-based policy, with an emphasis on addressing local impacts. If you’re interested in organizing and mobilizing others in your community, you should sign up for our Team-Based Organizing Initiative, a leadership development program that offers training, coaching, resources, and access to a peer-learning cohort to help you create or run a local or campus advocacy group. (Applications open again in April.)
What is the general structure of your organization?
The Union of Concerned Scientists is a 501c3 nonprofit; the Science Network is one of the unique programs that we offer. UCS has scientists and analysts on staff who conduct research and analysis on the issues that we work on. We have policy experts who then bring that analysis to elected officials, to help inform their decisions. And we have organizers who help train and mobilize scientists and science advocates so they can become effective advocates on the issues that they care about, and be directly involved on the issues that UCS works on.
How can readers best support your organization and its mission moving forward?
Join the Science Network! It is free and you’ll receive opportunities to take action on the issues we work on, plus learn about trainings and events we offer. You can also learn about how our members are embracing advocacy by joining us for a Science Advocacy panel on March 4 at 7pm ET. Also stay tuned for a guest blog series on the role of scientists in taking action for the public good, plus opportunities to get involved with the new administration and new Congress. Follow us on Twitter @SciNetUCS for the latest updates.
You can also talk to others about science advocacy, and embrace your role as a scientist advocate. By embracing the role of science advocate, scientists can work to ensure that science is applied to reduce social inequities and that the benefits of scientific work are fully and fairly shared. Talk to others about your policy, advocacy, and public engagement efforts. Connect with likeminded people, through NSPN, the UCS Science Network, your professional society, or on your campus, to offer each other support and stay motivated. Engaging in advocacy is more of a marathon than a sprint, but we believe that scientists have a key role to play in building power and pushing for transformative change in our society.
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To learn more about UCS and the Science Network, follow them on Twitter: @UCSUSA and @SciNetUCS.