Task forces

One of our first actions was to form into task forces. This is to promote discussion in smaller groups, focused on specific topic areas. Our goal is to be a bottom-up organization: the conclusions made in the small focused groups will help to steer the leadership, not the other way around.

Our task force structure is very flexible: you may join multiple task forces, and “joining” may be as simple as chiming in on the Slack channel, or participating in a task force meeting (often held after our main weekly meetings).

If you are interested in joining any of these task forces, please contact us.

1. Climate Change and the Environment

We focus on climate change, from public awareness and opinion on the problem to conservation policies. Our goal is not just to collect evidence-based resources, but even more to learn targeted strategies for changing the hearts of those unwilling to act–and examine why former public relations efforts that rely only on science have failed . While educating ourselves on policies that safeguard culture and nature in anticipation of climate change impacts, we specifically leave out energy policy for Task Force 8.

2. Human rights

Task force on policy impacting human rights.

3. Nuclear policy

Task force on nuclear weapons disarmament, modernization, and non-proliferation.

4. Inclusive science

Task force on issues related to women and minorities in STEM. Covers for the moment issues of science education.

5. Prison reform

Task force on incarceration policy, including the social science around the humane treatment of prisoners.

6. Education policy

Our task force looks at education policy, with a focus on STEM education.  As academics in sciences, we are committed to improving the quality and scope of STEM education. Our current focus is understanding how to effectively teach critical thinking and marketable technical skills on the  high school and college level. The major themes our group focuses on are: curriculum development, pedagogical strategies, and understanding the necessary skill sets needed for workers to thrive in our increasingly automated world.  Our plans are to develop and maintain contacts in the local education community, engage in public outreach to local schools, and work with local officials to develop STEM curricula.

7. Nuclear ban treaty

This task force aims to conduct research, raise awareness and support open dialogue on the upcoming nuclear weapon ban treaty negotiations at the United Nations in NYC. The basis for the group’s work is UN General Assembly resolution L.41 to convene negotiations in 2017 on a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. The voting result was 123 nations in favour and 38 against, with 16 abstentions.

8. Energy policy

This task force goal is to analyse energy related policies in New Jersey and the U.S. and to propose improvements in regards to social impacts, economic opportunities and energy efficiency.

9. Health policy

This task force aims at scrutinizing health policies in the U.S. and proposing recommendations toward a more fair and affordable health system.

10. Child welfare

What are federal and state governments doing to promote an America in which every child has access to food, shelter, healthcare, and education? Not enough. This task force focuses on the reasons why the answer to that question represents a depressingly inadequate effort, and on how we as individuals and as a civic engagement organization can make a difference.

11. Science Funding

This task force focuses on funding-related activities by the Congressional Science Committees and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Issues include science funding levels in both the annual Congressional and White House budgets, funding by academic discipline, applied vs. basic research funding, public-private research partnerships, Congressional oversight of the research grant process, and funding initiatives spearheaded by OSTP (e.g., the BRAIN Initiative).

12. Privacy and Security

Problems of data privacy, applied security, maybe open source and patent trolling.