Summer To-Do List: Advocate on Behalf of the Profession

APSA is dedicated to promoting strong federal support for political science research and education. The association partners with several coalitions to encourage support for political science and to educate policymakers and the public about the value of the discipline. APSA members play a key role in making the case for federal funding, and the summer is an ideal time to take action.

The federal appropriations process is complex and often strays wildly from the timelines and processes described in government and policy textbooks. This year, the process kicked off in May with the release of the president’s FY18 budget request. The budget request includes severe cuts to programs that support political science research and education, including the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities and an 11 percent cut to the National Science Foundation. For more information about the budget request, see APSA’s advocacy page.

The president’s budget request is not binding, but rather a formal recommendation of how the administration would like to shape the budget to reflect its priorities. Typically, following the request’s release, Congress will begin work on a congressional budget resolution, a blueprint for the remainder of the appropriations process that sets levels of discretionary spending. This summer, subcommittees will draft bills according to the spending levels set by the appropriations committees.

As the appropriations process unfolds this summer, here are a few ways you can make your voice heard:

June

  • Check in with the federal relations office at your university or college. Federal relations offices frequently coordinate visits by members of Congress to campus and meetings with members or staff at home and in Washington, DC. They often have a wealth of resources detailing the institution’s priorities and previous work with local representatives. Tell your university’s office about the issues you care about and find out what resources and opportunities are available to you.
  • Ask for an August meeting. Members’ schedules for district visits are often booked up far in advance. As a constituent, you still have a good chance to get a meeting with the member or staff by working now with your federal relations office or by reaching out on your own, if your institution doesn’t have a government relations office. See our guide for setting up a meeting on APSA’s Member Action page.

July

  • Get to know your representative’s committee and subcommittee assignments. Are your representatives’ members of key authorizing or appropriating committees and subcommittees? Check out the important committees for NSF, NEH, and international education on APSA’s advocacy pages and follow the committees’ work over the summer.
  • Share an op-ed with your local paper. Congressional offices routinely monitor local news sources to keep abreast of constituent concerns. Consider pitching a piece to a local paper, keeping committee membership in mind when crafting your message. See tips for writing op-eds on APSA’s advocacy and public engagement pages.

August

  • Visit your representatives at home. If you were able to secure a meeting earlier in the summer, prep for your meeting using APSA’s talking points on political science and funding. For more guidance on defining your “ask” and shaping your message, see the Consortium of Social Science Associations’ Advocacy Handbook and their breakdown of federal funding by state. Didn’t get a meeting? It’s not too late to check in and see if you can meet later this month. If you can’t set up a meeting, ask your representatives about their support for the NSF, NEH, and international education at a town hall event or write a letter. Visit APSA’s Member Action page for more information about writing to your member of Congress, model letters, and links to further handbooks and tips.

The summer months are an ideal time for APSA members to make their voices heard as the budgets for political science research and education are finalized for FY18. For more information about APSA’s advocacy work and resources, contact advocacy@apsanet.org.