Statement on Civic Engagement

(Adopted by Council on November 14, 2015)

The American Physical Society applauds its members who have helped ensure that public policy decisions are informed by sound scientific analysis. APS encourages its members to take advantage of opportunities for civic engagement drawing on their experience, whether through public or government service, by providing advice and information to government officials, or by contributing to public debate. APS urges institutions that employ its members to support such opportunities, and underscores the importance of programs that facilitate civic engagement by scientists and engineers, including the fellowship programs of APS, other professional societies, and government agencies. 

Our society faces many complex problems that require an understanding of scientific and technical issues for making informed policy decisions at all levels of government. Pressing issues whose solutions require sound scientific and technical advice arise repeatedly in critical policy arenas including energy and environmental policy, national and international security, physical and technological infrastructure, health, and education.  

Scientists and engineers have numerous opportunities to engage at the local, state, and federal levels to help ensure that policy decisions are informed by sound scientific and technical problem‐solving, analysis and advice. Scientist and engineers have already made significant contributions to improving public policy making by serving as school board members, mayors, and legislators; by pursuing careers that include government service; and by contributing to public debate and understanding. Most have found that civic engagement has contributed to their professional development, exposed them to the broader implications of their scientific work, and provided satisfaction in their contribution to important policy decisions that shape our society.  

Many institutions and organizations value participation by scientists and engineers in the review, analysis, and implementation of public policy. In recognition of this value, these organizations, including the American Physical Society, have created formal opportunities for them to do so.