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The Scientific Party
A group of Bentley University students used their business skills to develop a business plan for the American Geosciences Institute and traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate for government policy based on science, not politics.
The group – a mix of students studying Marketing and Natural and Applied Sciences – gave a three-hour presentation to the American Geosciences Institute staff as part of a service-learning project and then met with members of Congress and staffers on Capitol Hill.
Over the course of a semester, the student team created and presented a business plan to make the American Geosciences Institute’s Critical Issues Program – which facilitates dialogue between the geoscience community and policy-makers -- sustainable for the long term, while capitalizing on the increasing relevance of geoscience to society. Geoscience is the study of the Earth including its oceans, atmosphere, rivers and lakes.
Bentley Associate Professor of Geology David Szymanski said the students’ plan included an internal analysis, external market analysis, staffing and marketing recommendations, as well as the results of a survey the team had designed. After delivering their report to the American Geosciences Institute, the students went to Capitol Hill to meet with congressional offices and pitch their own ideas about using geoscience in policy-making. Szymanski, a former congressional fellow and science policy advisor to U.S. Senator Jon Tester, was impressed.
“Their near-perfect execution in delivering a clear, non-partisan message about strengthening the role of science in policy-making included asking legislators to cosponsor a bill to use science in preparing for and adapting to climate change,” Szymanski says. “While Congress is deeply divided on issues of science and climate change, the students saw this ‘ask’ as a way for Congress to signal the continuing importance of science to our national security and economy.”
The hands-on service-learning project was part of a Bentley undergraduate course on the Science of Environmental Policy taught by Szymanski. This year, students from the course teamed up with students from the Marketing for Nonprofits course taught by Assistant Professor of Marketing Laurel Steinfield. The participating students included Alberto Riveroll Usabiaga ’18, Matt Taggart ’18, Ashley Szczapa ’19, Angie Franco ’19, Sara Goodno ’20 and Tiara Obey ’21.
Over the last eight years, 33 Bentley students in teams of four to eight have provided consulting services to nonprofit geoscience and environmental organizations involved in national science policy. After a recent pitch by a Bentley student team, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren joined as a cosponsor of a climate change-related bill, the Safeguarding America's Future and Environment Act.
“While the national political conversation is particularly fractious right now,” Szymanski says, “what these students were able to achieve reminds us of the power of perseverance in the long-term game of science policy.”
About Bentley University
Bentley University is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader with the technical skills, global perspective and ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Bentley’s diverse arts and sciences program combined with an advanced business curriculum prepares graduates to make an impact in their chosen fields. The university enrolls approximately 4,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students. For more information, visit www.bentley.edu.
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