Science Debate was founded during the 2008 U.S. election in response to the near absence of science and technology topics in the presidential debates and in the campaigns. Our mission is simple: We ask that all candidates share their science policy perspectives before Election Day so that politicians arrive in office prepared to meet the 21st century's greatest challenges on day one. We believe that democracy works best when the people are as informed as possible about candidates positions.
Every major presidential candidate to date across parties. You can read them here.
In 2008, then nominees Senator Barak Obama and Senator John McCain responded to “Fourteen Top Science Questions Facing America.” Their answers were shared widely online and published in the journal Nature.
In 2012, President Obama and then Republican nominee Governor Mitt Romney participated and Scientific American published the responses.
In 2016, all four major candidates: President Donald Trump, Senator Hillary Clinton, Governor Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein responded in writing to “Twenty key science questions facing America.”
This year, Science Debate has expanded to ask all 2018 House, Senate and Gubernatorial candidates to participate.
No! Science Debate does not endorse anyone. We simply encourage all candidates to address science policy before Election Day and make their positions available for voters.
No! We are a registered 501c3. While science has been politicized, it should not be partisan because science serves and impacts all of us, regardless of political affiliation.
Yes! Science Debate has organized and hosted, organized and/or supported several events including:
Bipartisan Science Policy Forum, 2018. In partnership with the student-led Science Policy Group at Vanderbilt University.
A More Scientific Union, 2016. YouTube Space New York. Hosted by John Iadarola with The Young Turks and Jayde Lovell at SciQ. In partnership with Weill Cornell Medicine, Research America, The Rockefeller University, Union of Concerned Scientists and Science and Education Policy Association.
The Two Cultures in the 21st Century, 2009. The New York Academy of Sciences. In partnership with Science & the City and the Science Communication Consortium.
Innovation Conference. 2009. In partnership with The University of Minnesota.
Science Debate received thousands of submissions for questions from the public for candidates to address in previous election cycles. With the help of leadership at our partner institutions like the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academies, we went through every suggestion to curate a list of the top science policy questions facing the United States.
In 2016, all presidential candidates answered 20 questions. Because candidates running for House, Senate and Gubernatorial seats typically have smaller campaign staff, we compressed that list to 10 questions for 2018 races.
Right here... 2018 Q&A.
Science Debate has partnered with science and non-science organizations across the United States. Our partners support our efforts toward improving science engagement with candidates and science literacy among policymakers and the public.
We encourage partners to share our mission with their members, chapters and/or satellites. Sometimes they develop their own campaigns to press candidates to respond through letter-writing, phone-banking, emails or office visits. Some have created video promoting the purpose of Science Debate or provided space in magazines or journals to share what we do. Some have given us a panel, speaking opportunity or space at annual meetings to engage with members. Some have made a donation to support our efforts. There is no single way to be a Science Debate partner and we love finding ways to work with other organizations that share our goal.
Graduate students at Michigan State University launched a series of Science Debate events and activities in December of 2017. To learn more about their model and replicate similar efforts on your campus or in your community, email us!
We're glad you asked! Yes! If you don't know of a chapter in your town, download our Science Debate Toolkit for a guide to organizing local events, reaching out to your candidates and becoming a science policy advocate.
No! We work with media and the public to improve science literacy among politicians and the public. We provide training and are working on additional media projects and events. Take a look at What We Do.
March for Science is not a 501c3 yet. Science Debate has been supporting their efforts as their sole fiscal sponsor since January 2017.
Science Debate works around the country to promote candidate engagement and science literacy. We depend on support for legal fees, travel, resources for candidates and our volunteers, planning for media projects and events, and so much more. We depend on the generous support of donors to pursue our mission.
Contact your candidates and encourage them to respond to the 2018 Q&A! We drum up as much interest and support as we can, but what matters most to candidates is what their potential constituents request. You can find your candidates at Ballotopedia.
Who can I email for more information?
For general questions and press inquiries:
To find out more about volunteering:
To directly contact Sheril Kirshenbaum, our executive director: