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MIT students advocate for research funding on Capitol Hill

Members of the Science Policy Initiative will demonstrate the benefits of continued federal funding for science and technology at this year's annual Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day.
Amid concern about proposed cuts to federal research programs, 20 student members of MIT's Science Policy Initiative (SPI) will travel to Capitol Hill next week to participate in the 16th annual Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day (CVD), where they will demonstrate to legislators the benefits of continued federal funding for science and technology. This will be the fifth time that MIT students have participated in CVD.

MIT students will explain the relevance of their research to dozens of congressional members and their staff throughout the day, as well as impress upon them the need for steady increases in federal research funding, which underpins the international competitiveness of the American economy. While students will meet with representatives from their home districts, and the specific concerns for each district will vary, the tremendous contribution of universities such as MIT will be central talking points. Outreach on Capitol Hill carries added importance this year because of an emphasis on spending cuts — including many proposed to research agencies — in this year's federal budget talks. CVD participants will ask their representatives for continued support for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, research activities at the Department of Energy, and other federal research agencies.

Participation by the mostly graduate-student SPI has two goals: to educate representatives about the economic value of federally funded research, and to develop practical communication and policy skills learned in the SPI-sponsored Science Policy Bootcamp. To prepare to discuss their complex and technical research with members of congress, MIT students will participate in a workshop hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Additional briefings will be provided by staff at MIT's Washington Office, and by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), where top science officials will discuss the federal government's science and technology priorities.

MIT's participation in Congressional Visits Day is sponsored by the MIT Science Policy Initiative, which aims to educate students in the policy of science, technology, research and innovation, and to provide mechanisms like CVD for putting that knowledge to practice. All of the students involved in this year's CVD participated in SPI's Science Policy Bootcamp. The four-day program, taught by MIT Washington Office Director William Bonvillian, introduces students to the fundamentals of science and technology policy, including theories and drivers of innovation and the framework behind U.S. science agencies.

More information about Congressional Visits Day and other activities related to science and technology policy can be found at the website of MIT's Science Policy Initiative.

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