Advocacy for Psychology as a STEM Discipline

Whereas the APA has clearly identified increased recognition of psychology as a science as a priority, through its Strategic Plan Goal 3 and the recently received Report of the Presidential Task Force on the Future of Psychology as a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) discipline (American Psychological Association, 2009; American Psychological Association, 2010);

Whereas psychology is inconsistently recognized as a STEM discipline within other major federal agencies that fund training and research of scientists to solve grand challenges and maintain national competitiveness (American Psychological Association, 2010; Kazdin, 2009; National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, 2009);

Whereas psychologists are often excluded from opportunities for STEM-related funding for education and research programs (Kuenzi, 2008; National Governors Association, 2007; National Science Foundation, 2009);

Whereas new funding opportunities for funding and science policy are emerging in government agencies where APA advocacy staff do not have historically established alliances (American Psychological Association, 2010);

Whereas the breadth and number of funding dollars and opportunities has rapidly expanded over the past 10 years, and budgets at agencies such as NSF are on a growth trajectory (Matthews, 2010);

Whereas behavioral science is losing market share for funding within agencies such as NIH, NSF, and HRSA, and psychologists are facing increased competition for funding dollars within the shrinking allocations for behavioral science work (Levine, Abler, & Rosich, 2004);

Whereas monitoring of rapidly changing funding environments and development of comprehensive programs of advocacy within this changing environment requires additional resources;

Whereas these conditions create the need for rapid response by APA in order to maintain and grow the opportunities for psychologists to obtain research funding;

Whereas surveys of the APA membership show that scientific advocacy is one of the greatest member benefits of APA;

Whereas despite all of these changes and challenges, the budget allocation for science advocacy within APA has remained stable;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Psychological Association supports its priority for recognition of psychology as a science by increasing resources for advocacy for psychological science. Increased resources would support activities such as:

  • Expanding the executive branch fellow system;

  • Organizing congressional briefings on topics in which psychological science can be highlighted;

  • Increasing the number of nominations of psychological scientists to advisory boards and panels;

  • Monitoring new opportunities for funding for psychological science;

  • Monitoring new resources available for training psychologists, including women and under-represented minorities, in STEM related sub-areas of psychology;

  • Holding workshops for psychologists to take advantage of new funding opportunities or to be able to advocate for themselves with their representatives at the federal and state level;

  • Creation of a science advocacy network, structured in a similar way to the very successful and effective Federal Advocacy Network of the APA Practice Organization;

  • Expanding the range and frequency of contact with agencies that fund STEM research

  • Increasing the focus of APA’s public education campaign on the promotion of awareness of psychology as a science.

Be it further resolved that the American Psychological Association will develop concrete measures of its effectiveness in advocacy for psychological science in the following ways:

  • Assess the increase in number of agencies and organizations with which APA communicates about STEM related issues, such as the Departments of Energy and Transportation, AAAS and Friends of NSF;

  • Measure increases in the number and budget of funding for psychology’s participation in interdisciplinary STEM training programs, including those aimed at recruiting and training women and under-represented minorities;

  • Determine the change in number of Federal programs and reports in which psychological science is included as a STEM discipline;

  • Assess the increase in number of psychological scientists on scientific advisory boards and commissions, review panels, and among senior staff of STEM agencies;

  • Measure changes in awareness of APA members of funding opportunities through STEM agencies that have not traditionally included psychologists as grant recipients;

  • Monitor increases in the number of women and minorities attaining degrees in sub-areas of psychology where they have been traditionally under-represented.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Psychology as a Core Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Discipline: Report of the American Psychological Association 2009 Presidential Task Force On the Future of Psychology as a STEM Discipline (Available at

American Psychological Association. (2009). Council policy manual: Chapter VI. Organization of APA. Washington, DC: (Available at

Center for Workforce Studies, American Psychological Association. (2009). 2009 APA directory: Tables. Retrieved from

Kazdin, A. E., (2009). Psychological science’s contributions to a sustainable environment: Extending our reach to a grand challenge of society. American Psychologist, 64, 339-356.

Kuenzi, J. (2008). Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM education: Background, federal policy, and legislative action. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from sgp/crs/misc/RL33434.pdf.

Levine, F.J. Abler, R.F., & Rosich, K.J. (2004). Education and Training in the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences: A Plan of Action. A Report to the National Science Foundation. National Science Foundation.

Matthews, C.M. (2010). U.S. National Science Foundation: An Overview. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.

National Governors Association (2007). Building a science, technology, engineering and math agenda. Retrieved from

National Science Foundation Division of Science Resources Statistics (2009). Doctorate recipients from U.S. universities: Summary report 2007–08. Special Report NSF 10-309. Arlington, VA. Compiled by the APA Center for Workforce Studies, April 2010.

National Science Foundation (2009). NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM): Program Solicitation NSF 09-567. Retrieved from