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STEM Policy

About This Guide

STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) exist within a greater context of political realities. This guide includes resources about the relationship of scientific research, scholarship, and innovation to the following:

  • funding and regulatory agencies to which scientists are answerable;
  • U.S. and international politics; and
  • political advocacy-minded scientific organizations.

See the Citizen Science research guide for complementary resources on local community engagement with the sciences.

STEM & Political Engagement

Although scientists hold considerably different opinions than the general public on science-related issues, it's not clear how strongly these opinions are represented in U.S. politics.

A 2014 Pew Research Center survey found that members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) held widely different views than those of other Americans on issues such as the safety of genetically modified food, the use of animals in research, climate change, and evolution. Gaps were even wider between the general public and AAAS members who work in fields most relevant to the issue at hand (e.g., biomedical scientists and vaccination).

Yet STEM researchers' tendencies to vote may be lower than average if young STEM researcher civic engagement is an indication. In 2016, the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement at Tufts University's Institute for Democracy & Higher Education released an analysis of U.S. college student voting data from the 2012 election. Using 8.5 million student records from nearly 1,000 campuses (including UW-Madison), NSLVE found that students in STEM disciplines lagged behind other disciplines by as much as 20 points for voter turnout. Only 35% of students in engineering and mathematics/statistics voted.

STEM Policy Research

Each year since 1998, the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) has awarded the Rachel Carson Prize to "a book length work of social or political relevance in the area of science and technology studies." Check out past and current winners here



Science - AAAS

The AAAS journal Science regularly publishes articles on the intersection of science and politics. Find all Science articles categorized as policy-related hereScience writer Jeffrey Mervis specializes in articles on science policy and education in the U.S. and internationally. His author page, including latest stories, is here.

The Pew Research Center features sections devoted to public opinion polling in the areas of Science and Internet, Science, & Tech.