Science Outside the Lab summer program convenes in nation's capital

Several students stand under a globeWho does the United States public trust to help in its efforts to become more resilient to extreme weather events and climate change? A 2016 Pew Research Center survey revealed that 76 percent of citizens trust scientists “a great deal” or “a fair amount” to act in the public’s best interests, but only 27 percent report the same degrees of trust for their politicians and elected officials. Given these percentages, how does the public feel about the hybrid workers in government: the scientist civil servants staffing the federal agencies run by political appointees? Since the civilian workforce of the federal government makes up over 99.7 percent of the total staff, leaving very few positions to be filled by political appointment, it turns out that the actual “doing” part of resilience policy and science is largely left to scientist civil servants. Who are these scientist civil servants, then? How do they straddle the line between resilience policy and science? And how does the public feel about what they do? In June of 2018, Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network students convened at Arizona State University’s Barrett & O’Connor Washington Center in Washington, D.C. to meet with some of these scientist civil servants and scientists working for the nonprofit sector. The program was part of ASU’s Science Outside the Lab program on resilience policy and science. Program directors arranged roundtable discussions about: the duties involved in federal science positions, federal policies for building resilience to extreme weather events and climate change, and efforts toward developing trust and collaboration with the American public on these issues. Read the full blog post about the program, written by teaching assistant Jason Sauer.