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Center for Science and Democracy
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What's at Stake
Science and democracy are powerful partners. The United States was founded on the conviction that an informed citizenry, armed with evidence and reason, can make wise decisions that promote public health, safety and well-being. Throughout our history, science has helped our nation deliver on that promise.
But today, this legacy is slipping away. Science is sidelined or misrepresented by special interests. Scientists are attacked. Our broken political system struggles to find long-term solutions to urgent problems, while a fragmented, polarized media landscape makes it hard for the public to separate truth from spin or hold leaders accountable.
Under these conditions, it is more important now than ever for scientists and citizens to work together, engage in our democratic processes, and push for reforms to ensure that our policies are informed by science and evidence. The Center for Science and Democracy was founded to advance these goals.
The Center is defending science: exposing and challenging misinformation campaigns and inappropriate influence on policymakers, working to ensure scientific integrity, helping strengthen science-based health, safety, and environmental laws, and standing up for scientists who are targets of personal attacks.
The Center is empowering citizens and scientists: highlighting the role of science in solving critical problems through original research and analysis, breaking down barriers between scientific knowledge and the public, and bringing scientists and communities together through initiatives like the UCS Science Network and our Branscomb Forums.
In all these ways, the Center is working to keep the partnership between science and democracy strong. And there’s a lot that you can do, too.
The Center for Science and Democracy Steering Committee is a group of distinguished experts on science and public policy with a broad range of interests and achievements who provide strategic guidance to the Center's work. Learn more >
For over a decade, UCS has been working to promote scientific integrity in government, to protect targeted scientists, to strengthen science-based public protections, and to push back against misinformation.
Promoting Scientific Integrity
Scientists working for the U.S. government have made remarkable contributions to our nation. But when science is censored, distorted or manipulated to serve private interests, we all lose. UCS has been working since 2004 to expose these abuses and strengthen the integrity of the federal scientific enterprise, so that scientists are empowered to conduct unbiased research, communicate their findings to the public, and report on fraud and abuse. We've made significant strides, but more needs to be done to solidify these gains.
Learn more about promoting scientific integrity >
Preserving Science-Based Safeguards
The Clean Air Act. The Clean Water Act. The Endangered Species Act. Firmly grounded in scientific evidence, these protections, and others like them, have made the United States a better place to live. But recent years have brought repeated efforts to weaken or eliminate these safeguards in Congress. We're working to keep them strong.
Learn more about preserving science-based safeguards >
Protecting Scientists from Harassment
It's an old and time-dishonored trick: when you can't refute the message, target the messenger. Scientists whose findings are unwelcome to political or commercial interests face harassment and threats—and they may even find themselves having to defend their work and their privacy in court. Independent science benefits us all, and we all stand to lose when it is attacked. The Center is providing advice and support to targeted scientists.
Learn more about protecting scientists from harassment >
It can be hard to hear the voice of science over the cacophony of misinformation we are subjected to by vested interests whose bottom lines depend on misleading the public. At the same time, lobbying operations and political contributions buy corporations and trade groups outsized influence in Congress. Together, the fractured information landscape and the influence of money in politics jeopardize our health and safety. The Center is fighting back: exposing misinformation and demanding transparency about the role of money in government.
Learn more about fighting misinformation >
Empowering Citizens and Scientists
Bringing Science to Critical Issues
The Center is not just talking about science and democracy—we're doing something about it. Through research and analysis, blogging, and working with scientists and citizens on the ground, we're helping shape evidence-based solutions on issues like fracking, access to healthy food, chemical safety and more.
Learn more about bringing science to critical issues >
Connecting Scientists and Communities
The Center is helping scientists who want to make a difference connect with communities that need their expertise to fill information gaps. By drawing on the nearly 17,000 involved experts in the UCS Science Network, by developing resources and toolkits for the public, and by convening diverse stakeholders through our Branscomb Forums, we help bring the science/democracy partnership to life.
Learn more about connecting scientists and communities >
Promoting Public Access to Science
Knowledge is power, and when citizens and communities are denied access to scientific knowledge, they are effectively disempowered. For this reason, transparency, access to information, and the public's right to know are pivotal issues for science and democracy. The Center is working to ensure that the information needed to make good decisions about critical issues is available to all, and that science is used to address racial inequities that pervade our society.
Learn more about promoting public access to science >
The Branscomb Forums
Named for distinguished scientist, public servant and philanthropist Lewis M. Branscomb, the Branscomb Science and Democracy Forums bring together experts, policymakers, journalists, and concerned citizens to focus on a specific issue through a science and democracy lens. Forums so far have addressed issues such as fracking, food policy, and our response to natural disasters.
Learn more about the Branscomb Forums >