Apply for a Local Policy Fellowship

By: Adriana Bankston
February 4, 2020
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Local science and technology policy fellowships place scientists and engineers in legislative committees, policymaker's offices, or governmental advisory bodies to, essentially, work as expert staff. Fellows are able to translate their scientific skills into the science policy space, and learn how policymaking occurs through work on specific projects at the state level. In the playbook on how to apply for a local policy fellowship, we will cover a brief background on existing state fellowships and provide a few examples.

Several panelists at the National Science Policy Network (NSPN) webinar in September 2019 presented on state-level STEM fellowships. While the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) set up the first of these fellowships, science policy expert Deborah Stine described how other states are also looking to establish similar programs. She highlighted that four interrelated elements are necessary for these fellowships to take root in a given state: champions, a non-profit home, a liaison within the state legislature, and funding. The volunteer “bottom-up” champions are individuals who work to identify an appropriate non-profit home of the fellowship, and a partner within the state government. With these needs in place, a fellowship program can identify funding from a regional foundation or state agency.

The presentation by Stine mentioned that currently three states have fellows in place with models that include these four elements: California, Connecticut and New Jersey. Other programs that have been able to get some funding and are scheduled to have fellows with a 2020 start date are Massachusetts, Missouri (MOST Policy Initiative), North Carolina and Virginia. Idaho, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio are working together to establish a program. Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas are in the early stages of program formation. The State Science and Technology Policy Fellowship Program Interest Group offers information about this topic, and may contain information about application openings. The purpose of this group is to bring together those currently involved in state science and technology policy fellowship programs, those who are interested in forming programs within their state, and individuals interested in applying for these programs.

Below we detail a few examples of state-level fellowships and details about the application process.

California Council on Science & Technology (CCST) Fellows Program

  • Places scientists and engineers in the California State Legislature and Executive Branch for one-year appointments.
  • Ideal for applicants who are interested in improving the interface between science and legislative decision-making and who want to learn the public policy decision-making process.
  • To apply for the fellowship, one must possess a Ph.D. or equivalent level degree, U.S. citizenship or a suitable immigration status for non-residents.
  • Applications are not limited to California residents.
  • Fellows are selected in June 2020, and the Fellowship begins on November 1, 2020.
  • The fellowship provides training to help fellows transition to this new environment, including a three week training period prior to placement in an office.
  • You can find out more about the fellowship from this webinar and this interview with a former fellow.

Eagleton Science and Politics Fellowship

  • Launched in November 2018, and supported in part by the New Jersey Legislature.
  • Full-time, year-long program for scientists and engineers who have completed doctoral programs.
  • Fellowship placements are in or around Trenton, with some events at Rutgers University.
  • Fellows bring advanced technical skills to service in state government, either in the executive or the legislative branch, develop an understanding of state government and learn how to build careers in public service.
  • The fellowship year begins in July 2020 and concludes in July 2021.
  • The fellowship contains a professional development plan, which is used to inform additional meetings, followed by internal events, as well as conferences and trainings.

Missouri Science and Technology (MOST) Policy Fellowship program

  • Developed through a partnership between the state legislature, higher education institutions, and foundations seeking to advance science and technology.
  • This is an effort of the MOST Policy Initiative, a nonprofit that brings scientists and policymakers together to improve livelihoods for people and communities in the Midwest.
  • Advances Missouri’s standing as a leading state in research and development, agricultural and environmental management, and health care.
  • Places scientifically-trained fellows in the state capitol to provide scientific resources for policymakers.

This post represents my personal views and not the views of my employer, University of California.

Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL) is a non-advocacy, non-political organization. The information in this post is for general informational purposes and does not imply an endorsement by ESAL for any political candidates, businesses, or organizations mentioned herein.
Published: 02/4/20
Updated: 08/17/23
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