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How to stay informed on science policy topics

Policy presents the framework to address environmental challenges; engineering and science the tools to investigate it. Past Science Policy blog posts from H3S have shared science policy fellowship opportunities, how to get your foot in the door of the science policy world, and the overarching importance of science policy within academia. While students/early-career scientists are becoming increasingly concerned with and involved in the policy making process, it can be a daunting task to stay informed about science policy. As scientists and engineers, we understand that staying up to date on research findings in our respective fields is possibly the single most important, yet often tedious, task. Whether it is adding to the infinite literature review we always promise to put more effort into next semester or endlessly scrolling through the latest scientific twitter threads, staying informed is the cornerstone of the scientific process.

With a renewed effort in the past few years to emphasize societal welfare in science and science policy, it’s critical for students/early-career scientists to be informed and have a holistic view of the topics that currently are or should be on the national stage. Before most people feel comfortable contributing to a science policy symposium, attending a colloquium, or applying for a fellowship, they try to read up on the current science policy news in order to make a more informed analysis of their own.

This blog post shares just a handful of some of the outlets that specifically emphasize scientific policy news and a few of the topics that are expected to be at the forefront this year. While it is certainly not an exhaustive list, it is a great starting point for those looking to expose themselves more to the scientific policy arena. While this list is also not specific to hydrology topics, it is always important to have a broad view of what is and is not in the spotlight to better understand what issues are and are not being discussed by the public and policy makers. For more inspiration beyond the sources listed here, check out this blog post from George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, which breaks up climate news sources by academic journals, blogs, government sources, media organizations, and non-profits.

– FYI is an authoritative news and resource center for federally funded science policy in the United States. Maintained by the American Institute of Physics, FYI is the go-to source for recent science policy news and contains consolidated information regarding federal science budgets, legislation, and leaders. Some of the resources they provide include weekly updates on upcoming science policy events and previous week news, a federal budget tracker for federally funded agencies that study physical sciences, and a bill tracker to follow science legislation. In addition, they contain information regarding the leadership of the major science organizations and those in charge of science policy within the United States. Every year they also release the 10 most anticipated science policy topics of the upcoming year, and this year they included such topics as NASA’s Artemis program, the Justice40 Initiative (40% of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities) and the US National Climate Strategy Plan. FYI is a great source for those looking for an in-depth resource on how the federal government funds, approves, and tracks science priorities.

Popular Science Magazines and News Sources

The Scientist, Scientific American, and Science all contain science policy news. Covering a broad spectrum of topics, these are great places to read both informational and editorial pieces. While these sources don’t have dedicated hydrology news, they often feature popular stories regarding watershed management, droughts, environmental quality, and other hydrology related topics. Other popular news sources, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, also have resources with aggregated climate news.

– Founded in 2020 by a cohort from the University of Oxford, Water Science Policy is a global water policy journalism hub completely run by volunteers. With over 100 volunteers from 25 countries, they publish and translate original articles into dozens of languages to produce educational and engaging photo-series, videos, and original articles on water issues across the globe. All of their content is free to read so that everyone has access to the work they do, as they continue to build partnerships with the United Nations, the Stockholm International Water Institute, the Water Integrity Network, and the World Photography Organization. Sign up for their monthly newsletter to stay informed on their work.

Read Science Policy Literature

– Science policy peer reviewed journals can supplement other popular science journals. While journals may not cover breaking science policy news, they can help engage early career scientists in ongoing governance debates. Some possible journals to begin including in your reading regime are the Journal of Science Policy and Governance, Science and Public Policy, or Research Policy.

Science Policy Twitter

– There’s a twitter for everything, including science policy. Popular science policy twitter accounts include AGU’s own @AGUSciPolicy, Science Policy Network (@SciPolNetwork), and Canadian Science Policy Centre (@sciencepolicy). Another account worth following is Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco), an assistant professor in the public administration division of the Centre for Economic Teaching and Research (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, CIDE) in Aguascalientes, Mexico who founded #ScholarSunday on Twitter and examines public policy and environmental policy.

– Second Nature is a non-profit dedicated to accelerating climate action in, and through, higher education. They do this by partnering with higher education institutions, scale campus climate initiatives, and bridge the gap between sector and educational leaders. Second Nature specifically has a monthly newsletter on federal and state climate policy initiatives and legislation. This is a great start to get more information on both a federal and state level, which can be difficult to find at other national news outlets.

AGU’s Own Advice – Listservs!

– AGU can be a source itself for the latest Earth and space science policy news. AGU maintains their own listserv to send science policy news directly to your inbox. AGU also recommends signing up for other email blasts from the major scientific agencies including but not limited to NASA, NOAA, NSF, and the USGS.

Expected Science Policy Topics This Upcoming Year

– While there is no shortage of science policy topics for the upcoming year, there are a few of significant importance. According to the United Nations Foundation, these are the six climate topics to be aware of for 2022:

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