ESAL is a national organization dedicated to increasing local engagement by professionals with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Many engineers and scientists are interested in making a difference in their communities, but they don’t know how to get involved or overlook the important role that cities, counties, and states play in policy development and implementation. We hope to encourage and help STEM professionals to meaningfully engage with their local government and with community-oriented non-profit and volunteer organizations by sharing stories of how others have made a difference in their communities.
The first step
Draw inspiration from civic engagement stories shared by other engineers and scientists.
From the field
Get real-world advice from STEM professionals who successfully engaged with their local communities.
Not sure where to start? See our curated guide for more ideas.
Civic Engagement survey
We asked engineers and scientists about their attitudes toward and engagement with government. The results revealed a demand for capacity building and increased awareness of policy issues for local engagement by people with STEM backgrounds.
The survey was developed by organizing members of ESAL. Survey results are based on 113 complete survey responses that were collected between September 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. We distributed the survey via our personal and professional networks, including social media chanels aimed at engineers and scientists who have expressed interest in or have experience with government and policy work. Although the results likely reflect much higher levels of overall interest in and engagement with government than the general population of engineers and scientists, it allows us to look at the range of activities and opinions among those most interested in policy engagement. Read the full report here.
Interest in Local Engagement
The majority of engineers and scientists are interested in increasing their engagement with their local government.
Federal vs local
Most engineers and scientists feel more informed about federal policy issues as opposed to local issues.
Many engineers and scientists say they lack knowledge of how to get involved at a local level.
Change starts at home
And engineers and scientists have an important role to play
Not sure how to get started? Check out our Local Engagement Checklist for ideas!
LATEST BLOG POSTS
In this month’s Postcard, Terra White, PhD in Neurobiology & Behavior, wrote about her organization at University of California, Irvine., and the public forum they hosted last January, which 100 people attended.
How locally engaged are STEM professionals? We surveyed them to find out.
In fall 2017 we launched our Civic Engagement Survey to gauge attitudes and engagement with all levels of government by people with STEM backgrounds. We’re excited to reveal the results of our survey, available here.
Holly Williams believes outreach experiences are the perfect way to cut your teeth on community engagement. She has volunteered at the California Academy of Sciences as a science educator for nearly two years now. In this month’s Story, she describes how she leveraged her STEM background in small ways and still made a big impact.
In the second part of this month’s “Postcard”, Arti Garg describes a follow-up discussion she had with her city’s economic development manager after offering public comments at a city council committee meeting. She wrote a one-page summary proposing that the city prioritize cleantech hardware in its development plan.
In this month’s “Postcard”, Arti Garg describes delivering public comments at a city council committee meeting.
Environmental geochemist and ESAL Alaska Chapter Lead Kendra Zamzow shares her experience effecting change in state policy. She participated in a technical working group for Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation to provide evidence-based recommendations for updated regulatory protections against contaminants in fishing waters.
In this month’s “Postcard”, Rachna Handa describes how she attended a public workshop for her county’s community choice energy aggregator. She walked away from this all-day public forum and panel discussion motivated and energized to take part in local decision-making.
In this month’s “Stories from the Field”, we talked to Thomas Beatty, an assistant research professor in astronomy at Pennsylvania State University who is skilled at charting distant worlds. He applies some of the same STEM principles to the more down-to-earth subject of gerrymandering, which has been the subject of recent court rulings and ongoing political debate.