Has the incessant drumbeat of campaign news got you thinking about what you can do—besides vote—to improve the political functioning of the country? MIT can help. Really. Join the new Alumni Legislative Advocacy Network to keep abreast of policy initiatives pertinent to science, technology, and education—and get an alert to act when proposals are at critical decision points.
The network, launched in December to inform and empower interested alumni, is a joint initiative of the MIT Alumni Association and the MIT Washington DC office, established in 1991 to advocate for education and research. MIT does not lobby for itself, but it does provide a host of data to Congress and share information with MIT constituents. Earlier this month, for example, the DC office posted a new item in its Innovation Policy section, a 20-page report on the future of manufacturing, and it annually publishes the MIT Briefing Book, which profiles the Institute’s major research programs.
The Washington office also publishes a weekly blog titled NEWScience Policy, written by Abby Benson MNG ′05, SM ′05, assistant director. Yesterday’s post commented on the President’s State of the Union address, pointing out the themes of affordable college education, investment in the manufacturing and energy sectors, and tax code reform. The post links to the Blueprint for an America Built to Last, released by the White House with in-depth information on proposed policies.
The blog also tips readers to news by the day—from a Department of Defense press event about the proposed cut of $259 billion in defense spending to a Government Accountability Office report on the overlap in current and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs. The blog also notes upcoming hearings.
Where is the action in advocacy? According to a talk by Benson on campus last fall, network participants can expect to be contacted by the Washington Office two-five times a year to, for example, contact their representatives about particular policy initiatives. Of course, network volunteers are not obligated to advocate for any specific policy positions—it’s entirely a volunteer effort.
Editor’s note: In honor of MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP) in January, Slice is focusing on activities you can do yourself and on the experiences of students serving this month as externs with alumni in their workplaces. Stay tuned!