Why Public Policy Is Important
Public policy is a catchall phrase that includes actions of and interactions with both Congress and the Executive branch. Public policy can involve law-making, setting and funding government spending priorities, regulatory issues, strategy making, and more. It is the means by which democratic societies solve problems and plan for the future.
Public policy forms the foundation upon which we practice our science. Through policy, we answer questions about the importance of science among other national concerns, what science should be funded and at what level, and how government-supported science should be carried out.
For astronomy, public policy determines:
- Budgets and funding for building telescopes and supporting researchers through grants
- The structure and authorities of NASA, NSF, and other science agencies
- How universities can support and educate students in STEM
- How we collaborate internationally through immigration and research security laws
- Regulatory measures that impact use of the radio spectrum or protect from light pollution
- Open data access, support for diversity in STEM, prevention of harassment, and much more
The Society’s Role in Public Policy
Individuals and groups shape public policy through education, advocacy, or mobilization of interest groups. As your professional society, AAS fills this role. The public policy staff monitors legislation, maintains relationships with policy makers, organizes educational briefings, writes letters, participates in coalitions with other science societies, and facilitates the advocacy efforts of its members. The staff is aided by the divisions and committees of the AAS for topical expertise or specific issue advocacy.
We are here to answer your questions and help you advocate for your science.
Our policy blog keeps you informed on all AAS policy initiatives and updates.
Interested in hearing about science policy from your AAS Executive Office staff? The AAS will share expenses for a member of our policy staff to come out for a colloquium or more informal talk about science policy and our AAS advocacy efforts.