Speaking Out for
BY BRAD SMITH
DURING HIS VICTORY speech on November 4, President-elect Obama asked us to imagine “…if our chil-
dren should live to see the next century;
if my daughters should be so lucky to
live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper [a
106-year-old who had voted earlier that
day] — what change will they see? What
progress will we have made?”
This is our chance to act and affect
change. We, as students and practitio-
ners of science, know that science and
technology will be crucial to America’s
progress. New scientific discoveries could
eradicate cancer, or reduce our reliance
on foreign oil and fossil fuels. New tech-
nologies could revive our nation’s manu-
facturing, or change our transportation
and communication infrastructure.
Unfortunately, new investments in science and technology won’t happen overnight, and could even get pushed aside
by other pressing issues. For these reasons, we must begin to speak for science
and do a better job of civic engagement.
Speaking out for science is easy — and as
an individual, you can use multiple methods and channels for doing so.
The LAN plan
You can speak for science by becoming active in LAN, a Web-based political
involvement program that gives you an
easy, effective way to voice opinions on
legislation that could affect the field of
science — and your future career. In the
process, you can play a valuable role
in shaping the debate on issues ranging
from federal research to K– 12 science
education. Members of Congress listen to
their constituents and value their timely
input — and the LAN makes it easier
than ever for you to voice your opinion.
Involvement in the LAN is free, simple, and takes place entirely via the Web.
But more to the point, by participating
in the LAN, chemists can impact federal
policies critical to chemistry and our
nation. Please register online at http://
a number of ways, by familiarizing you
with a given issue, your legislator’s position, and tips for meeting with a Member
Here are some other ways you can
join the effort to speak for science:
offices during their April and May
your chapter or science club meeting.
Celebrate Earth Day or National
Chemistry Week activities.
school students to pursue science.
The ACS Office of Public Affairs
(OPA) operates the GAC program, which
works to facilitate interaction between
local section members and elected officials on policy issues affecting chemists.
Because face-to-face meetings between
legislators and chemists “back home” are
often the most effective way to advance
ACS positions, this program is a high
priority for OPA and integral to its issue
campaigns. For GAC program members,
these meetings are an important opportunity to begin developing long-term relationships with their elected officials.
ACS identifies, trains, and supports
local section GACs to advance positions
with select legislators through district
meetings and other forums. Ideally, a
GAC consists of three to four ACS local
leaders, with representation from aca-
demic, industry, and students like you.
OPA staff can help you get involved in
Let’s challenge ourselves to make
sure our voices are heard over the next
year. Science and technology can only
advance if we as scientists promote it. If
you would like to participate in the LAN,
your local section’s GAC, or both, please
contact the OPA at 1-800-227-5558, ext.
4386 or firstname.lastname@example.org. iC
For decades, ACS has been a respected source of information and advocacy
on Capitol Hill. You, as a concerned
citizen, can also help Congress make
better decisions by participating in ACS
programs such as the Legislative Action
Network (LAN) and Local Section
Government Affairs Committees (GAC).
Since 1998, BRAD SMITH
has worked for the ACS Office
of Public Affairs to bridge
the gap between practicing
chemists and policymakers
by advocating ACS policy
positions to federal and state policymakers and
directing the Society’s grassroots programs.