I had the opportunity to attend the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Summer Policy Colloquium from June 3-12, 2012 in Washington, DC. This event, cosponsored by the American Geophysical Union, provides participants with a 10-day crash course in policy, the US government, and how science fits into both. We were treated to a variety of outstanding speakers throughout the week who provided us with wonderful insight into the role of science in policy and government, and why we, as scientists and citizens, should be actively involved in the process.
It was clear after the second day that I knew pretty much nothing about how the government works, regardless of living in the US my whole life. I never realized all the staff and expertise that reside on the hill on a wide variety of issues that affect society (from clean energy to the economy). After attending this colloquium, I have gained a new appreciation and understanding for the policy process (and why some things may take awhile to get done). One of the most important lessons that I learned is that policy is a process. It begins with an idea of how something can be improved and ends with the implementation of that idea. And unlike how many scientists tend to view problems, point A to B is not necessarily a straight line or a cause and effect solution. Thus, it is important to be involved with the policy (in big and small ways) and help people understand why they should care about all the wonderful science being done throughout the world. If you can do that, you can make a difference.
Another lesson that I learned was that you should love what you do and be passionate about it. I loved hearing all the enthusiasm that the speakers and participants had towards their work. I enjoyed the energy that surrounded people who loved what they do and cared about society. One of my favorite thoughts was that DC is an area full of people who were told when they were children that they can make a difference.
I was fortunate during my 10-days to meet not only the speakers, but also an amazing group of fellow participants. In many of them I see the same passion for making a difference that many of the speakers held, which gives me hope about the future of science and policy. Scientists have an important role in policy, and wonderful events, like this colloquium, help that role be reestablished and flourish into the future. Overall, I had a wonderful experience and highly recommend others to attend the AMS Summer Policy Colloquium in the future!
Meteorology & Physical Oceanography
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Note: This blog is a reflection on my personal opinions and do not represent the views of the speakers, participants, AMS Policy Program, or the AGU.