Civic Engagement of Scientists

(Adopted by Council on November 15, 2008)

Many of the complex problems our society and its public officials face require an understanding of scientific and technical issues. Basic scientific knowledge is critical to making balanced policy decisions on pressing issues such as climate change, energy policy, medical procedures, the nation’s technical infrastructure, and science education standards.

Increasing the representation of scientists and engineers in public office at the federal, state and local levels, and in positions of responsibility at government agencies, can help ensure that informed policy and science funding decisions are made. Scientists and engineers in public office - including school board members, mayors and legislators - have made significant contributions, not only on specific scientific issues but also by bringing their analytical and problem-solving abilities into the arena of public service. Additionally, many have found that civic engagement has contributed to their professional development through exposure to the broader implications of their work.

The American Physical Society recognizes that its members elected to public office or who hold key scientific and technical positions within government effectively serve both the physics community and the broader society. We strongly support the decision of members of the scientific and engineering communities to pursue such positions.