properties are some, we expect, who will find that posing the issue of science use as needing their attention will be attractive. It is exciting to be in on the ground floor of a new field of research, especially when there is a large and influential audience waiting for guidance on how to strengthen science use in policy.
A companion effort focuses on students at the Ph.D. stage. There are numerous examples of philanthropic and federal funding that shaped the choice of dissertation topics and the early research trajectory of young scholars—resulting in new scholarly fields of inquiry. With heightened political attention to the “broader impacts” of science, answers are being sought, for example, for better ways to link natural and social sciences in addressing policy challenges, to better understand how variability in the quality of scientific evidence affects its use, and to the value of investing in intermediaries promising to promote the use of science as evidence.
The third audience is those responsible for the curriculum in public policy schools and programs in U.S. universities, which annually graduate thousands of students, many of whom find positions in the policy enterprise. It would be useful to know in some detail, first, what these students are and are not being taught as it bears on the use of science in public policy. That would require an investigation far more extensive than the committee could undertake. We did conduct a limited review sufficient to reach conclusions relevant to what our findings imply for policy education.
Our point is simple: policy education should equip its graduates to promote the use of science in policy-making settings. Graduates need, obviously, a working familiarity with the substance of policy issues and competency to locate, assess, and introduce validated research on those issues. But more is needed. Success at promoting science depends on grasping the complexity of the policy world, and on understanding the assumptions underlying divergent policy framings, expert judgments, and consensus-building techniques, as well as standard analytic methods and approaches. Policy students can be taught to appreciate policy making through policy argument or practical reasoning and to understand that the relevance of and weight given to science depends on the policy context. They can recognize the limits of the persuasive power of scientific reasoning, the substantial institutional barriers and cultural resistance to new scientific knowledge, and the role of moral and ethical beliefs.
For a century or more the social sciences have contributed to policy making in many ways, especially in informing policy design and evaluation. We see a fresh way they can further contribute: by specifically focusing on whether, why, and how science is, or is not, used as evidence in public policy.