Raising Voices for Science: A Test Campaign (including Rural Mississippi Extension)

Americans have an overwhelmingly positive view of science, yet remain ambivalent toward government’s leading role in driving scientific advancement. According to a recent benchmark study conducted by ScienceCounts, a nonprofit focused on enhancing public support for federally funded science, only one in four Americans recognize that government’s support of the scientific enterprise is irreplaceable and cannot be offset by funding from the private sector. “Raising Voices for Science” is a social marketing initiative launched by ScienceCounts to bolster public support for scientific research. The initial step—a groundbreaking national benchmark study completed in 2016—yielded invaluable data and insights into public attitudes toward science. The Rita Allen Foundation, in partnership with funders from philanthropy, industry and academia, is sponsoring the next stage of this work—a test campaign that seeks to discover, through careful measurement and analysis, public engagement strategies that effectively garner public support for a robust federal role in scientific research. Beginning in four mid-sized communities, the campaign will conduct and evaluate engagement approaches—including activities in schools and museums, community events, and broadcast and online media. These projects will take advantage of existing enthusiasm for science among broad swathes of the public, and help to connect the promise of scientific research with concrete benefits for individuals and communities. The results will inform a larger campaign and a suite of proven engagement strategies to be shared with the scientific community through the American Association for the Advancement of Science and other professional societies.