July 30, 2020
Congressional Visits Days with a Virtual Twist: A DEI Virtual Advocacy Days Recap
Posted by Caitlin Bergstrom
Each year, AGU hosts and co-hosts several Congressional Visits Day events, which provide scientists from the Earth and space science community an opportunity to build relationships with their policymakers and further science policy through in-person meetings on Capitol Hill. However, with the current public health crisis limiting travel and face-to-face interactions, holding such events this year in person is not possible. Instead, we took the opportunity to reimagine Congressional Visits Day events for a virtual world—resulting in the creation of AGU Virtual Advocacy Days.
In late June, we hosted our first event—Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Virtual Advocacy Days—where more than 300 scientists from across the U.S. called upon their members of Congress to support and advance legislation seeking to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in science. The event not only allowed participants to connect with their legislators and staff through virtual meetings, but also through other virtual methods not traditionally utilized during a typical in-person Congressional Visit Day event, including targeted emails and social media posts. For participants looking for help in preparing to attend virtual Hill meetings, the event also included an AGU staff-led online training.
We are excited to share that DEI Virtual Advocacy Days was an overall success:
- 20 virtual meetings with U.S. Senate offices and 15 virtual meetings with U.S. House offices were held.
- 645 emails were directly sent to more than 130 members of Congress.
- More than 100 messages were posted to social media platforms.
Some participants even found success on a personal level through their experience during the event. From post-event participant feedback obtained by AGU, one scientist stated, “These Virtual Advocacy Days prepared and empowered me to speak to my Congresspeople and advocate for STEM legislation, which has always seemed like a black box of ‘something we should be doing.’”
Want to learn more about the issue of diversity, equity and inclusion in the Earth and space sciences? Check out some of our recent AGU member guest blogs:
- “Creating Inclusive Spaces for Women of Color in the Workplace and in Society – Part One” – by Paula R. Buchanan and Maria E. Mejia
- “Creating Inclusive Spaces for Women of Color in the Workplace and in Society – Part Two” – by Paula R. Buchanan and Maria E. Mejia
- “Allies and Community Are Crucial for Science. Here’s Why.” – by Heidi Steltzer
Interested in participating in a Virtual Advocacy Day? Visit our site to learn more about upcoming events and other student opportunities, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@AGUSciPolicy). For questions regarding our events or other science policy matters, please contact us at [email protected].