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About Us

Who We Are, What We Do

The Center for Science and Technology Policy Research was initiated within the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the summer of 2001 as a contribution both to the CIRES goal of “promoting science in service to society” and to the University’s vision of establishing research and outreach across traditional academic boundaries.

The Center is a response to an increased demand by public and private decision makers for “usable” scientific information. Such information can serve decisions that have a scientific component or decisions about the structures, organizations, and priorities of science itself. At the same time, scientists have become increasingly interested in research problems that require the input of more than just a single traditional discipline. Science and technology policy research provides a mechanism to reconcile these two closely related - but not identical - trends. Such research focuses on “problems” and “decisions” to provide information that is useful and relevant in decision making. The focus on problems and decisions sets science and technology policy research apart from other efforts to integrate knowledge across traditional disciplines.

Because problems and decisions are not bounded by any discipline or set of disciplines, science and technology policy research is necessarily integrative across the physical, social, and biological sciences (as well as other fields, including the humanities). The specific decision or problem that is the focus of inquiry dictates the sort of knowledge that is relevant to the research. By linking integrative science with the needs of decision makers, science and technology policy research can serve a valuable role in helping the research community better focus its efforts on issues of importance to society, and decision makers can more effectively incorporate scientific and technological advances into their decision processes. An explicit focus on science and technology policy research can contribute needed expertise and perspective in the quest for scientific and technical knowledge usable by decision makers.

Our long-term vision is to “serve as a resource for science and technology decision makers and those providing the education of future decision makers.”  Our mission is to improve how science and technology policies address societal needs, including research, education and service.     

Achieving this mission requires making progress toward the following four interrelated strategic intents:

Strategic Intent #1

Help guide the University of Colorado in educating the next generation of science and technology policy decision makers.

Objectives

  • Build a sustainable graduate science and technology policy education program at the University of Colorado.
  • Serve as a national role model in innovative science and technology policy education.
  • Integrate faculty skills and expertise across disciplines and fields contributing to their professional development, research, and educational goals.
  • Enable the University of Colorado to serve as a leading voice in national and international science and technology policy issues.

Strategic Intent #2

Help make the nation’s science portfolios more responsive to societal needs.  Example areas include climate and global change, disasters, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and renewable/sustainable energy.

Objectives

  • Identify criteria for reconciling supply of and demand for scientific information in decision making.
  • Identify and present criteria for developing and evaluating broad portfolios of scientific and technological research.
  • Identify and develop relationships with our target audiences to learn about their information needs and how we can best assist them.
  • Develop an outreach strategy to disseminate the Center’s products to our target audience.

Strategic Intent #3

Provide various means for people with differing perspectives to discuss research and practice related to science in its broader societal context.

Objectives

  • Identify the current and potential users of our discussion fora.
  • Evaluate current activities and continuously develop new activities to serve effectively our users’ needs.
  • Experiment with new technologies, educational tools, mechanisms of outreach, and forms of stakeholder interaction to enhance the opportunities for discussion and debate on important topics related to science and society.

Strategic Intent #4

Build a sustainable, diverse and productive institution at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Objectives

  • Achieve sufficient and stable funding to support the Center’s core activities.
  • Achieve a critical mass of personnel able to carry out the Center’s mission.
  • Have all Center staff co-located on the main campus.
  • Further improve and refine the Center’s governance structure to support growth and guide its future direction.
  • Develop the Center’s “brand.”

Some of our specific activities are as follows:

Research
  • As part of its NSF project, Science Policy Assessment and Research on Climate, the Center convened a workshop to compare and assess science policy decision making across the NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) programs.
  • Center staff are developing tools for improving linkages between carbon cycle science and management decisions that may involve considerations of carbon cycle science, based on the relations between evolving scientific and technological opportunity, political reality, and demandside capability.
  • The Climate Services Clearinghouse database includes information on thousands of climate services.  The database allows users to locate a specific service, explore all services that meet a particular set of criteria (ie regional, weekly, prognostic, precipitation services), or browse all services through several categories. 
Outreach
  • The Center has sponsored a year-long lecture series, "Policy, Politics and Science in the White House: Conversations with Presidential Science Advisors" that brought science advisors to Presidents Bush Jr., Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Nixon, and Johnson to the University of Colorado to speak about science policy at the highest level of government.
  • The Center's science policy weblog, Prometheus, contains provocative entries about the role of science in decision making.
  • The Center’s newsletter, Ogmius, includes exchanges between recognized science and technology policy experts on issues such as homeland security, global climate change, the politicization of science, and the Data Quality Act.
  • The Center’s website receives as many as 2,500 unique visitors per day.
  • Center staff have been quoted in numerous media sources including Nature, the L.A. Times, the New York Times, and The Economist.
  • Center op-eds have appeared in publications such as Issues in Science and Technology, Space News, Science, and Nature.
Education
  • The Center initiated an Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Program in Science and Technology Policy at the University of Colorado beginning in the spring of 2004.
  • Center staff teach courses on subjects such as Climate, Water Resources, and Environmental Sustainability; Science and Technology Policy; Humanities Policy; Decision Processes; and Policy, Science, and the Environment.
FAQs

Where is the Center located?

We are housed on the outskirts of the University of Colorado campus, at 1333 Grandview Avenue. For directions, click here.

How do I find out about Center activities?

Our homepage includes announcements of upcoming Center events, as well as recent publications and media coverage of the Center. You can also access our newsletter the Ogmius.

How do I find out more about science and technology policy education?

Contact Roger Pielke, Jr. at pielke@colorado.edu. See also our links to S&T-related classes and programs.

How do I find out about science and technology policy-related internships, fellowships, jobs, etc.?

Visit our S&T Jobs page for links to announcements of opportunities in the S&T field. Job openings are also occasionally posted in Ogmius and on the Center’s homepage.

I have a Ph.D. in one of the sciences with no training in science policy.  How do I transition to a science policy career without returning to school?

Apply for a fellowship in Washington, DC-- it's a great way to get your foot in the door for science policy without more school.

Organizations that offer science policy fellowships for recent Ph.D.s in the sciences (and other fields):

• AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowships

• The National Academies Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program

• AGU Congressional Science Fellowship 

• American Society for Microbiology Congressional Science Fellowship

• The American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics Congressional Science Fellowships

• American Chemical Society Public Policy Fellowships

Current graduate students are eligible for NOAA Sea Grant Fellowships

Articles

Stepping Away From the Bench: Science Policy at the National Academies, by Laura Sheahan

Science Policy Career Resources, by Laure Haak

A Matter of Policy, by Brian Vastag


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