Colorado State’s Science in Action welcomes new leadership, dives deeper into local politics

 

Clara Tibbetts from Science in Action (SiA) at Colorado State University shares insights on adapting science policy efforts during the pandemic, integrating virtual elements to future events, and continuing to build SiA with a new leadership team.

Who is Science in Action?

Founded in 2016, we are a group of graduate students and post-docs at Colorado State University who are passionate about developing our skills to effectively communicate and advocate for science.

What are examples of local, state, and/or federal science policy issues your group focuses on?

We have a wide breadth of interests amongst our members. One direction that drew our focus last year was healthcare coverage for students in Colorado. Last year a team of SiA members worked in conjunction with the CSU Graduate Student Health Committee to investigate inequities in student healthcare plans and access across the state of Colorado. Members then worked on writing a memo, hopefully to be resubmitted to the Journal of Science Policy and Governance this Fall.

We have also had members investigate topics like scientific reliability, water rights, conservation agriculture, and vaccine hesitancy.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work?

It would be remiss not to acknowledge the negative impact of COVID-19 on the group; some folks had to take a step back from our work at various times, and others became increasingly burnt-out. However, we have learned a lot and gotten more creative with adapting several of our typical events. For example, CSU Speaks, an event usually hosted at the local New Belgium Brewery where CSU students, post-docs, and faculty apply to give short “Ted-talk like” presentations to the Fort Collins community, was transitioned to a webinar format. Though we didn’t have quite the attendance that a favorite brewery draws, we were excited to be able to interact with a fantastic audience spanning beyond the immediate Fort Collins community. 

We are excited about the prospect of continuing to learn about how to integrate virtual elements to our activities as we possibly see more in-person events return. We have found that virtual events allow us access to wonderful speakers and guests that we would be unable to host otherwise, and include members who might otherwise not be able to attend evening or weekend events with constraints like child-care access.

What plans and projects are you most excited about for this academic year?

This year is a year for rebuilding our organization after a year with a lot of members graduating last spring.  We are excited to welcome an enthusiastic leadership team built of predominately new faces. We hope to dive in deeper to local policies and build on some of the relationships with city and county employees and officials that we started to develop last year, to learn more about where we can have the most impact close to home. We hope to pursue projects related to water and forest health since these are of utmost concern for many Coloradoans with the growing impact of climate change-related extreme weather events. 

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To learn more about Science in Action, follow them on Twitter @CSUscipolicy.

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