Two adults and a child stand in front of a voting booth
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Working for a Healthier Democracy

Helping scientists and communities work together, promoting public access to scientific information, and supporting efforts for democracy reform.

Helping scientists and communities work together, promoting public access to scientific information, and supporting efforts for democracy reform.

Just as science is needed to ensure that policies are effective, a healthy democracy is needed to ensure that they are fair. When some voices are excluded from the process, it becomes easier to make decisions that serve narrow interests rather than the public good. So a crucial component of our work is helping ensure that all voices are heard by advocating for democracy reform, and by helping scientists and communities form productive partnerships to advance just, evidence-based solutions.

Helping scientists connect with communities

Local communities working to solve pressing problems too often find the deck stacked against them, with the game rigged in favor of powerful elites, and with barriers obstructing their access to the information and resources they need to make a case for informed, equitable policy decisions. Scientists can help flip this script by using their expertise to support community advocacy efforts. The Center for Science and Democracy is committed to helping make that happen, by forming partnerships with community groups and by mobilizing the UCS Science Network.

Supporting the fight for environmental justice

Environmental health and safety problems such as air and water pollution, hazardous waste, and chemical disasters take a heavy toll in the US—and this burden is not distributed equitably. Racially or economically marginalized communities face higher exposure to environmental hazards, a disparity reinforced through policy levers such as zoning codes and land-use laws. The Center for Science and Democracy partners with organizations in these communities to help highlight and quantify the disproportionate burdens they face, and to join them in advocating for just solutions.

Bringing a science perspective to democracy reform

A community facing threats to its health and safety should be able to use the democratic process to address those threats. But many communities in the US have been effectively disenfranchised through laws and policies designed to suppress their voices. For this reason, it’s not enough to advocate for science-based solutions to public health and environmental challenges—we also need to fix our democracy so those solutions become more achievable. The Center for Science and Democracy connects the dots between environmental injustice and voter suppression, lax campaign finance rules, and other democracy breakdowns that make science-based policymaking more difficult, and we support efforts for democracy reform.