Grad Students Go to Washington

On June 26, 2014 by Grad Forum
Gifford Wong, Julia Bradley-Cook, and Alexandra Giese attend the American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium in Washington, DC.

Gifford Wong, Julia Bradley-Cook, and Alexandra Giese attend the American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium in Washington, DC.

The 2014 American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium, held in Washington, DC, recently provided graduate students Julia Bradley-Cook, Alexandra Giese, and Gifford Wong with an intense, ten-day immersion in science policy. The colloquium brought together 36 US graduate students, faculty, and professionals in the field of atmospheric sciences in early June and, through thoughtful, hands-on exercises and dozens of prominent expert speakers, exposed the cohort to a career-shaping experience vis-à-vis the policy process and the science community’s relationship with decision-makers.

The ten-day program began with an evening reception and dinner introducing this year’s colloquium cohort to the hosts, including American Meteorological Society Associate Executive Director and Senior Policy Fellow Dr. William Hooke—founder and director of the Summer Policy Colloquium. From there, the colloquium covered a number of policy fundamentals including: cogent overviews of legislation creation; the roles of Congress, the White House, and associated governmental agencies and NGOs; and the link between domestic and international policy matters.

In addition to the conversations with high-level government, NGO, and communication professionals, participants engaged in two practical exercises. A mock Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee markup, which included a vote on climate change risk management legislation, provided attendees with the opportunity to apply lessons from the week and engage in group work. Through this multi-day activity, the group developed a practical understanding of the potential political views of the various represented offices, as well as those of fellow committee senators. The cohort also spent a day engaged in the American Geophysical Union Communications Workshop: practicing connecting with a variety of audiences, distilling concepts into memorable messages, and incorporating storytelling into science communication.

“I am coming away from the colloquium feeling very empowered,” says Bradley-Cook. “As a scientist motivated to close the gap between science and society, I have new understanding, tools, and resources to work towards this goal.” Giese affirms, “I gained a greater confidence that a career in international policy is one that I would like to pursue as a scientist.”

In short, the colloquium was a phenomenal synthesis of science, policy, communication, and passion that will undoubtedly fuel future endeavors of these three Dartmouth students. For more, look to the Dartmouth IGERT blog for posts from Bradley-Cook, Giese, and Wong.

by Gifford Wong

photo courtesy of Julia Bradley-Cook

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