SciPol-Detroit Engages in Local Advocacy
Scientists and engineers can play a role in local policy decisions. Shreya Desai from the Science Policy Network-Detroit shares the group’s recent successes and upcoming plans as they form a chapter out of the pandemic.
What is your chapter’s mission?
Established in July of 2020, Science Policy Network-Detroit (SciPol-Detroit) aims to bridge the gap between policy makers, scientists, and the public at large. Our goal is to advocate for science policy in the city of Detroit to better the lives of its citizens and ensure information is getting to lay public about issues in their communities. By bringing together the community and experts in the fields of science and policy, we can contribute to the development of lasting and effective policy.
What are some of your chapter’s current projects or recent successes?
We have had several successful events and projects thus far. Last spring, we completed a semester-long communication advocacy series that centered around training our members to speak with lawmakers. In partnership with our university’s Government and Community Affairs office, we learned about the Momnibus bill and Invest in America Act and eventually advocated for these pieces of legislation to five different lawmaker offices. Our meetings proved to be very successful as one of the lawmakers co-sponsored the Momnibus because of our discussion with them. In addition, we are wrapping up our summer action group initiative, which was headed by one of our co-founders Breanna Borg. We had four different action groups that focused on four different issues in Detroit including air pollution, community violence, water injustices, and lead exposures. Group leaders and members door-knocked around Detroit neighborhoods, disseminated information, passed out gun locks, tested for lead, and more! We plan to convert our action group initiative into permanent committees that we implement into our organization. We also plan to meet with local representatives to discuss the survey data we collected from this initiative so we can develop functional and sustainable policies regarding these issues.
How has the pandemic impacted your work?
The pandemic is what pushed us to create this group. We noticed the miscommunications between lawmakers, scientists, and the public regarding the virus and this inspired us to start a group where we could alleviate some of this miscommunication. The pandemic also forced us to have all of our events so far virtually. While not ideal, it opened the door up to guest speakers located across the state and country, which is great for our members to have access to.
What are you most excited about in the next few months?
Our team is very excited for the events we have planned this semester. We have an upcoming “From Science to Policy” event where Dr. Ken Massey, a scientist and Michigan mayor, will discuss his journey from a career in science to a career in policy and how he’s been applying data-driven policy to legislation on his desk. Likewise, we are holding a Detroit Lead Panel in November and featuring experts from the community, university, and Congress. This will be our first in-person event, so we are really excited for this one.
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To learn more about SciPol-Detroit, click here.