FABBS' Advocacy for the Sciences of Mind, Brain, and Behavior: Why It’s Important to Scientists

January 17, 2012

by Paula Skedsvold

On occasion, scientists will ask me about what we are trying to accomplish at FABBS. In other words, what’s the big picture and how does this play out in the advocacy we choose to do. A while back, I prepared a brief statement to share with the boards of FABBS and the FABBS Foundation. In it, I describe a vision for advocacy (through FABBS) and education (through the FABBS Foundation). Today, I share this with you, the thousands of scientists who comprise the twenty-two scientific societies on whose behalf we conduct our advocacy and educational activities. I welcome your feedback and hope you will become more deeply involved in our work.

I want to share with you my vision for FABBS and the FABBS Foundation…. I have been in Washington, DC, for sixteen years and have worked in a number of different settings including Capitol Hill, NIH, and the science advocacy community. It is my sense that the years of work by advocates in the behavioral and social sciences community (through the Federation and other organizations) have yielded some significant gains. I have been a part of this advocacy work at various stages, and I have also seen it from the views of an “insider” on Capitol Hill and at NIH.

Despite the significant gains – establishment of SBE within NSF and OBSSR at NIH, for example– we still have some distance to travel. Consider the hurdles we recently faced in making the case that we are a part of the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research infrastructure and should therefore be a part of the nation’s STEM education programs, as well as the persistent attacks on SBE from members of both the House and the Senate.

My vision is to work with scientists and advocates to change the view of our sciences and the support it receives from the President, all levels and branches of government, and the public at large. Science includes the study of humans, as well as plants and planets. To not recognize and support the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior is a disservice to science, the country, and future generations.

Through FABBS, our advocacy is directed toward this end and involves both short- and long-term activities. It involves raising awareness, demonstrating the contributions of our sciences, and continuing to make the case. In other words, when the President speaks of “science,” whether to the nation or to members of the National Academy of Sciences, the development of knowledge through the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior is central to his or her thinking, language, and plans.

Through the FABBS Foundation, our educational activities are directed toward bringing our sciences to the public so that they can see its benefits, and to future generations whose ideas about science and how it contributes to the nation are being shaped now.

From these starting points, the specific activities of both organizations take shape. Our financial resources are minimal, but we leverage them with the support and efforts of our scientists, including you, the members of our boards, and the efforts of allied organizations. I look forward to working with you to advance our sciences for the benefit of society.