The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has received a $1 million gift from Lewis M. Branscomb, a prominent physicist and intellectual leader on science and policymaking. The gift will help launch a new Center for Science and Democracy at UCS that will work toward restoring the essential role science, evidence-based knowledge and constructive debate play in the U.S. policymaking process.
Branscomb’s gift comes as scientists have become increasingly worried about how policymakers and members of the public view science, as well as the quality of public dialogue about the benefits of science and technology to the public and democratic governance. The Center’s activities will work to bring together scientists, policymakers and other constituencies to address these issues.
A cornerstone of the Center for Science and Democracy will be the Lewis M. Branscomb Science and Democracy Forum. The forum series will bring experts, decision makers, and the public together to tackle key issues at the intersection of science and democracy, including special interests’ influence on science used in government decision making.
UCS President Kevin Knobloch said that naming the forum after Branscomb honors his intellectual and financial contributions to the enterprise. “Dr. Branscomb’s longstanding leadership and concern for the vital role of science in American democracy is well known,” he said. “His vision has been essential to the development of the center. This gift will allow us to build on his tireless work in advancing the role of science in the American experiment.”
“Science has been the absolute bedrock of technological and economic progress in the United States,” Branscomb added. “In making this gift, it is my hope that fact-based policies will more often guide political decisions. We need to take a hard look at where our national public policy debates are falling short when it comes to respecting the unique role science plays in society. And we can do a better job as scientists in helping people see where our research fits into those debates.”
Branscomb hopes his gift will spur others to make similar commitments.