Over 3,000 STEM professionals have gone to the website 314 Action (www.314action.org), a political action and advocacy organization with the aim of creating a pro-science and innovation agenda in government, and signed up to be advocates or political candidates. But 314 Action isn’t done yet; they’re looking for engineers—they’re looking for people like you.
The organization is a 501(c)(4) organization and describes itself as an “organization who intends to leverage the goals and values of the greater science, technology, engineering, and mathematics community to aggressively advocate the all-too-common attacks on basic scientific understandings, research funding, and climate change.”
Engineers have the kinds of background that the group thinks could turn around the current political dysfunction. Engineers are problem solvers, often both in mentality and in educational background. This kind of pragmatism, especially coupled with an eye toward innovation and technology, will lead to better governing and policy, according to the group.
“Engineers are trained in evidence. Facts matter. Data matters,” said Ted Bordelon, the organization’s Director of Communications.
Currently, even with the broadest definition of “STEM background,” the U.S. Congress has less than 20 members with a STEM background. This lack of proportionality compared to the larger society is what 314 Action sees as part of the reason that the priorities of the scientific and innovation community are not properly addressed. The group hopes changing that ratio will provide a better approach to policy and priorities. According to Shaughnessy Naughton, Action 314’s founder and a trained chemist, the group seeks to create “diversity of experience at all levels of government.”
In addition to Naughton, the organization’s Board of Advisors includes: Dr. Michael Mann, professor of meteorology at Penn State University; Dr. Warren Crown, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Education at Rutgers Graduate School of Education; Dr. Ingrid Oakley-Girvan, whose work includes the development of biosensors and HIPAA compliant mobile platforms to improve public health; Dr. Frank Levinson Jr., who specializes in fiber-optics technology; Dr. Randy Friese, Professor of Surgery at University of Arizona College of Medicine; Dr. Eddie Baron, a distinguished professor of Physics and Astronomy; and Dr. Kim Cobb, an award-winning professor in the Georgia Tech College of Sciences, among others.
Action 314’s Focus
Right now the organization has a heavy national-level focus on the House Science Committee, under the leadership of Rep. Lamar Smith and including Reps. Steve Knight and Dana Rohrabacher. But that shouldn’t dissuade anyone regardless of their political leanings from jumping on board and throwing your hat into the political ring. Furthermore, don’t think you have to run for Congress as the organization is focused equally on local and national campaigns.
There is no partisan requirement, nor any litmus test on social issues, nor even on the nuances of tax policy. Their goal is a pro-science national agenda supported by politicians and advocates with the kind of STEM background to speak on such issues with authority. You can’t be a climate change denier and you do have to support a robust investment in innovation, research funding, and STEM education.
If all of this intrigues you and you’ve got what it takes, Action 314 recommends you go to their website and sign up. On the site you’ll find resources explaining what’s involved in running for office—from setting up communications infrastructure to fundraising and getting the volunteers every campaign needs to be successful.
On April 20, 2017, keep an out for a candidate training, or—if you’d rather be an advocate for a pro-science agenda—advocacy training. Action 314 also encourages you to support the National March for Science or any of its local sister marches.