Congress is just one place where geoscientists can find a position in science policy and legislation. Professional societies, private and non-profit organizations, and government agencies also offer opportunities for policy careers. Read more below to learn about the differences between these types of employers and find employer examples.
Within Congress, congressional staffers work to support the legislative goals of a member of Congress or a congressional committee by meeting with constituents, federal agencies, and other parties. This role requires broad expertise on the issues a staffer handles (for example, environmental concerns) and the ability to communicate science effectively to general audiences. Because congressional staffers work on all stages of legislation development, they can significantly influence federal policy while making connections with influential people in government.
United States Senate
United States House of Representatives
Geoscientists working in federal offices of legislative affairs are the primary point of contact between federal agencies and Congress. The responsibilities of this role include the development of the agency's legislative agenda, communication of the agency's position on proposed legislation, and preparation of agency officials for briefings and hearings. Most federal agencies have an office of legislative affairs; refer to the government sector resources for geoscience-related government agencies.
US Geological Survey Congressional Liaison Office
US DOI Office of Congressional & Legislative Affairs
USDA Office of Congressional Relations
NOAA Office of Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs
NASA Office of Legislative Affairs
EPA Congressional & Intergovernmental Relations
Many private businesses, research institutes, and non-profit organizations hire policy experts with expertise in fields relevant to the organization's agenda. The expertise of geoscientists is valuable to organizations focused on environmental issues like natural resource conservation, natural hazards, marine and coastal ecosystem protection, and more. These roles often involve ensuring compliance with regulations, following legislation related to the organization's priorities, and communicating with congressional staffers, members of Congress, and other legislators to advocate for proposed bills.
The Nature Conservancy
The Earth Institute Center on Global Energy Policy
Environmental and Energy Study Institute
Environmental Defense Fund
IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute
Some professional societies have a branch concerned with public policy and science (e.g., government relations or public relations) that may employ geoscientists to monitor policy issues, advocate for funding of scientific research, create position statements on relevant legislation, or provide resources to scientists and policymakers to aid in the legislative process. Due to the limited number of professional societies with policy initiatives, open positions may be rare.
American Geophysical Union Science Policy
Geological Society of American Science Policy
American Geosciences Institute Policy & Critical Issues
AAPG Geoscience and Energy Policy Office
AAAS Office of Science, Policy and Society Programs
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