Congress Makes Date with Democracy
The week of May 23rd began with an extraordinary event sponsored by the Decade of Behavior. APA Science Policy staffer Pat Kobor worked with the National Communication Association, Association of American Geographers, and American Political Science Association to showcase the 2005 Decade of Behavior Research Award winners in the study of democracy, one of the five themes of the Decade. The event was called “The State of Democracy: Engaging a Changing Citizenry. “ Over 70 congressional staff and policymakers attended the symposium, including staff from the Department of Homeland Security, State Department and Library of Congress among others. APA fellow Judith Torney-Purta, PhD, of the University of Maryland, was honored for her work on the beliefs and attitudes of young people in the United States and abroad on democracy and civic involvement. Pointing out that young people in the U.S. received only mediocre scores on understanding the concepts and ideals of democracy, Dr. Torney-Purta called for more participatory experiences as part of the civic education of young people. Other scientists who gave award addresses were political scientists James Gibson, PhD, Washington University-St. Louis; David Epstein PhD, and Sharyn O’Halloran, PhD, Columbia University; geographer William A.V. Clark, PhD, University of California-Los Angeles; and communication scholar Kathleen Hall Jamieson, PhD, University of Pennsylvania.
A highlight was the presentation of the Decade of Behavior Research Awards by Reps. Brian Baird (D-WA) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL). Rep. Baird, a psychologist, and Rep. Lipinski, a political scientist, made remarks about the importance of scholarship on democracy, and how important it is that social scientists bring their research forward to help inform policy. Howard Silver, PhD, of the Consortium of Social Science Associations served as the able moderator, and Jessica Bryant of the APA Science Directorate explained the goals of the Decade of Behavior and its research awards.