Threatened Amendment to Defund Political Science

APSA warns that Jeff Flake (R: Arizona) may introduce an amendment to the NSF funding bill today, to defund political science.

Flake may introduce the amendment as early as tomorrow Wednesday May 9th. Please take steps right away that you feel appropriate to alert your Congressional Relations staff and to contact your Representative not to cut political science funding at NSF. APSA will forward more information as we can obtain it.

Let me re-iterate the appeal to contact your representatives (if we have any readers in Flake’s district, it would be especially helpful), and also ask those of you with blogs or a media presence to talk about this continuing, and quite bizarre set of attacks on political science.

7 Responses to Threatened Amendment to Defund Political Science

  1. Jim May 9, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Talking to some of my friends on the Hill – there is generally a lack of information about what NSF political science funding has been useful for. Perhaps APSA (or The Monkey Cage?) could put together some easily accessed information about how much money has gone to political science awards, and some of the important and major findings that have resulted from it. This kind of information is very helpful in gathering support.

    • Martin Edwards May 9, 2012 at 10:18 am #

      This is a great point. APSA needs to lead on this.

      What would be compelling, however, is not merely findings, but also narratives from the students that are supported by NSF funding – including the various institutes, the doctoral dissertations, and the undergraduates through REU/RUI.

      Simply put, at a great many universities, the work of these students isn’t going to get done without federal dollars.

  2. Jonathan May 9, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Go to http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5418 and click on “What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)” to browse some potential material.

    • Jim May 9, 2012 at 10:58 am #

      This information is insufficient for congressional staffers who may (1) have no background in political science research, (2) do not have time to unpack the NSF’s unfortunate way of compiling and presenting data on their grants.

      The larger issue – staffers could read whatever they want about what was funded, but it won’t tell them about how any of it has mattered. Political scientists need to give them that information. That is what good interest groups do on Capitol Hill. Information is everywhere, but the groups that can present the most pertinent and timely information about things being considered can have influence.

  3. Casey Klofstad May 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    For those interested in an analysis of when Sen. Coburn attempted to defund political science in 2009, please refer here:

    http://www.as.miami.edu/personal/cklofstad/10_coburn.pdf

    Mass-email lobbying efforts by APSA had no influence on the vote on the Coburn Amendment.

  4. JoJo May 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    I agree with Jim. APSA and political scientists must make the case for the value of their work. Looking through the funded research, I can barely find anything that looks interesting enough to read. To a complete outsider, the research appears to have little value; papers only political scientist care about. Where’s a simple summary of why this research is worth funding?

    To contrast, if a layman or congressional staffer wants to know the value of BioE research: they don’t need to understand why we’re working on NO cytoskeleton or why we’re building a machine to create leukocyte samples (although I’d be happy to explain) – I tell can them we’re working towards a cure for diabetes. It’s simple and everyone can understand the tangible benefits of curing diabetes and engineering better medical equipment.

    Can someone name the top 5 accomplishments of NSF pls research this year. Why are they important? Why should anyone, aside from political scientists, care about this research? If you can’t tell average taxpayer how this research improves lives or makes the world a better place, then it’s understandable why they’d want funding to go towards hard STEM.

  5. JoJo May 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    I agree with Jim. APSA and political scientists must make the case for the value of their work. Looking through the funded research, I can barely find anything that looks interesting enough to read. To a complete outsider, the research appears to have little value; papers only political scientist care about. Where’s a simple summary of why this research is worth funding?

    To contrast, if a layman or congressional staffer wants to know the value of BioE research: they don’t need to understand why we’re working on NO cytoskeleton or why we’re building a machine to create leukocyte samples (although I’d be happy to explain) – I tell can them we’re working towards a cure for diabetes. It’s simple and everyone can understand the tangible benefits of curing diabetes and engineering better medical equipment.

    Can someone name the top 5 accomplishments of NSF pls research this year. Why are they important? Why should anyone, aside from political scientists, care about this research? If you can’t tell average taxpayer how this research improves lives or makes the world a better place, then it’s understandable why they’d want funding to go towards hard STEM.