By Omari Spears
The 2020 election is just around the corner, and I hope many of you are motivated to advocate for science. Science Rising has many helpful guides available in the Resources section, but different actions are better suited for different people.
Assessing what you can realistically do with the time and resources you have available is an important part of being an advocate. Organizing events and motivating communities to stand up for science is important, but can take a lot of energy and may not feel comfortable for everyone.
I’ve split different types of actions into three categories, organized by time and resource requirements. I’ve also included additional actions at the bottom for students, but if you’re a student feel free to use the entirety of this guide as you see fit.
Actions for anyone
If you’re someone who doesn’t have much time to advocate, these actions are a good way to help make a difference without spreading yourself thin. Some basic ways to get started: z make sure that you’re registered to vote and know where you polling place is, so on Election Day all you’ll have to do is get out and vote. Show up to town halls and other public meetings to show your support for the issues being discussed. You don’t have to be the most vocal person in the room, or on the front lines at events, but being present helps make a difference.
You can also find ways to use social media constructively. If you’re someone who already spends a fair amount of time on Facebook or Twitter, consider dedicating some of your time to advocacy. If you need tips on how to effectively use social media to support science you can check out these resources below:
Next Steps: Putting more time and resources to use
If you feel that you can do more than the actions above, try your hand at doing things that are a bit more involved. Event organizing doesn’t have to be done on a gigantic scale. You can host likeminded advocates in your home for something like a letter writing party, call in day, or voter registration drive. Other group events like this just require that you have a space for members of your community to meet for a small scale event.
If you don’t have the space to accommodate others you can still take your advocacy a step further with some more involved solo actions. Do you have the time to sit down and write a letter to the editor of your local paper? How about submitting effective public comments to the federal register? There are a lot of ways you can get involved by writing, just keep in mind the time it will take to craft and revise anything that you’d like to submit.
You can take any in-person actions a step further too, by securing meetings with your elected officials, or speaking out during town halls and other public events. Preparation is key. Knowing what you want to say and how to get your point across quickly can be the difference between making an impact and being overlooked.
Remember, the key to making an impact is to think strategically about your capacity and how you want to spend your time. Here are a few activities to consider:
- Request a meeting with elected officials
- Writing op-eds that make a difference
- Engage with local stakeholders
Large-scale event hosting
Leading up to the election, if you have the time and resources, consider organizing an event. You’ll need to do a significant amount of pre-planning and will probably need to enlist others for assistance. Whether you’re hosting a rally, panel discussion, training, or any other type of event, first you should outline your goals and ideal outcomes. What budget constraints are you working with? How many people do you expect to attend and do you know where you can find a space to accommodate them? You’ll also have to think about promoting your event. Building connections with the media is an important part of helping your action become more visible.
Something else to consider is what resources you have available to promote your event. Having enough time before the day of to get media attention and promotion online is important to having a good turnout, and help to make sure your message is heard. For some event ideas see the resources below:
- Organize an in-district meeting (make sure to look at the Congressional calendar ahead of time!)
- Host a public education event with community groups
- Organize a science outreach event
- Case study: Partner with community groups for a local event
If you’re a college student, you can see what on-campus resources you have available to help you organize advocacy events. There might even be spaces on campus that you have access to that can accommodate larger events. Opportunities vary from campus to campus. These resources made specifically for students can help you get the ball rolling: