Pre-Institute Symposium: Science and Public Policy


SENCER invites applications for participation in our inaugural Symposium on Science and Public Policy immediately preceding the SENCER 2013 Summer Institute (SSI 2013) at Santa Clara University.


The Symposium will begin with a late afternoon session and dinner at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31 and continue with a morning session through 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 1, just before the opening plenary at SSI 2013.


Given the central role that public issues - and the development of public policies designed to address them - play in the civic engagement aspirations of the SENCER enterprise, a focused exploration of science and public policy seems essential. Responding to requests we received last year, we will experiment with a pre-Institute symposium designed to be useful to participants in SENCER initiatives, to creators of SENCER courses and programs, and to students.


"Membership" in the Symposium will be by invitation only, following a review of applications from those already invited to participate in SSI 2013. There will be no cost for attendance of the Symposium (we realize that participants will be required to arrive in San Jose a day early and will incur additional lodging costs).


As a condition of admission, however, participants will be expected to:

- read a set of materials to be provided in advance of the Symposium,

- provide a very brief bio and photo in advance of attending,

- contribute to all Symposium discussions, and

- participate in a post-Symposium evaluation protocol (survey and possible interview) that we will use to plan future activities.


We will cap enrollment in the Symposium at 25.


The Symposium will examine the historical interdependence of science and public policy and the contributions each has made to the other in the science-society bargain. Among the contemporary questions the Symposium will address the:


- reception (sometimes unquestioned and sometimes hostile) that scientific findings enjoy in the public policy process,


- fundamental changes occurring in our political system and their implications for science practice, education and policy,


- meaning of a "human right" to the benefits of scientific progress,


- challenges facing those who craft science communication strategies as they navigate the identities, values and interests of those receiving scientific information, and


- assessment of the quality and reliability of public opinion surveys used to for public policy formation on matters “shaped” by science.


Climate change, vaccination policy, embryonic stem cell research, energy and evolution are among the public policy issues from which the Symposium will draw for illustration, exploration, and discussion.



Coordination and Invited Speakers


The Symposium will be organized and moderated by Janice Ballou, a public opinion specialist, retired Senior Vice President at Mathematica, Inc., and SENCER external evaluator; and Joseph Karlesky, a professor of government at Franklin and Marshall College.


Invited speakers include Dan Kahan, professor of law and psychology at Yale University and a leader in Yale’s Cultural Cognition project, The Honorable Rush Holt, Member of Congress, and others, to be announced.



How to Apply


To apply for the 2013 SENCER pre-Institute Symposium on Science and Public Policy, please click here.


The application deadline is 11:59 (your local time) May 8. Symposium coordinators will notify you of the status of your application on May 21.





Symposium Schedule


July 31: 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

(dinner will be provided)


August 1: 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

(breakfast and lunch will be provided)






If your application to take part in SSI 2013 as an individual or a member of a team has been approved, you are eligible to apply to participate in the Public Policy Symposium.




How to Apply


Participation in the Pre-Institute SENCER and Public Policy Symposium is strictly limited to 25 attendees.


The application period closed on May 8.


Applicants will be notified on May 21 regarding the status of their application.