Advancing science and serving society in the U.S.

advancement of science
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Open Access Government explores the work of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and how the organisation continues to ensure that all of society benefit from scientific innovation

U.S. national scientific community organisation the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) seeks to “advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.” Today more than ever, there is significant importance placed upon “the benefit of all people,” and to fulfil this mission of not leaving anyone behind, the AAAS set out a number of goals such as:

  • Enhancing communication among scientists, engineers, and the public.
  • Promoting and defending the integrity and use of science.
  • Strengthening support for the science and technology enterprise.
  • Providing a voice for science on societal issues.
  • Promoting the responsible use of science in public policy.
  • Strengthening and diversifying science and technology workforces.
  • Fostering education in science and technology for everyone.
  • Increasing public engagement with science and technology.
  • Advancing international cooperation in science.

While science has been a large part of America from the nation’s early days, its few practitioners were scattered both geographically and among disciplines. The AAAS was the first permanent organisation formed (in 1848) to promote the development of science and engineering at the national level and to represent the interests of all its disciplines. Today, the non-profit AAAS fulfils its mission to advance science and serve society through initiatives in science policy, diplomacy, education, career support, public engagement with science, and more, with the life of AAAS being interwoven with the growth of American science.

Science has never been more important for informing sound policy and ensuring progress for all citizens. For example, “lessons learned over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic can offer guidance to the scientific community on how best to respond to other challenges, including the even more pressing threat of climate change,” stated Claire Fraser, AAAS President. The AAAS continues to leverage scientific evidence to engage policymakers and society alike during periods of crises.

As the research community and decision-makers worldwide have been responding to COVID-19, the AAAS has worked tirelessly to provide credible, evidence-based information and bring the latest research and commentary, along with extensive news coverage of the crisis to the forefront. This critical work has been generously supported by the Pulitzer Centre, Google News and more. Furthermore, through its many programmes, the AAAS informs policymakers on varying current issues related to science and technology. Some of these include:

Office of Science, Policy and Society Programmes

The programmes within this office engage science and scientists with many communities, including those of STEM education, government, workforce capacity, religion and law. This is with the overarching aim of advancing the appropriate role of science in the service of society.

Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP)

This coalition is an ad hoc alliance of organisations, joined together to empower scientists and engineers to effectively engage in the policymaking process at all levels of government (international, federal, state and local.)

Centre for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues

Scientific evidence can be incredibly useful in policymaking, but too often, it is undervalued and can sometimes be difficult to access or understand. Therefore, this initiative designed to deliver clear, concise, and actionable scientific evidence to policymakers and other decision-makers, making it easier for them to access relevant scientific evidence and then integrate that evidence into their decision-making process.

These are just some of the many programmes that help the public better understand science and its role in evidence-based policymaking. As a leading source for data and up-to-date analysis of trends in U.S. research and development (R&D) funding, the AAAS continues to serve as a go to resource for those seeking to understand the long-term changes and recent policy developments. The organisation also works with global partners to strengthen advocacy for evidence beyond national borders and conducts workshops, seminars, and events for scientists, policymakers, and the public to engage and communicate.

Science has an important role to play in bringing about such transformative changes through data-informed policymaking, and the multidisciplinary AAAS continues to play a large role in this.


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