Recap: Change the Game lecture with Gregory Mack

A BIG thank you to everyone that came out to our inaugural Change the Game lecture; you helped to make the event a success! For those of us interested in metrics, we have had 152 attendees spanning around 12 departments at UT: *Check out the cool attendance infographic made by our secretary, Nannan Jiang.


We were happy to draw people from such diverse backgrounds and hope you all found it as interesting as regular FOSEP goers did!

An equally BIG thank you to Dr. Gregory Mack for being our speaker and providing such great insight on the intersection between science and policy, particularly concerning advocacy efforts. It was such a pleasure to host you and to get to know you!

We hope this establishes a lecture series everyone interested in science ethics, policy, and their comingling can find valuable and fun! Keep an eye open for a continuation of this series next year and send FOSEP at UT an email if you have any particular speaker or topic you would love to see featured.


FOSEP in the news!

Click here to view the article published in UT’s Daily Beacon

New student organization unites science and politics

Shelby Whitehead, Contributor                                                                      Sep 19, 2016

The Forum on Science, Ethics and Policy recently established its place on campus. The main focus of FOSEP is to encourage a conversation about science and how it effects and is affected by politics.

FOSEP came to UT in September of 2015. It is based on similar programs at universities in Boulder, Colorado and Seattle, Washington.“Science and technology are playing an increasingly important role in society, and with that has come a lot of challenges at the intersection of science and policy,” Marie Kirkegaard, FOSEP’S vice president, said.

The program tries to bridge the communication gap between policy and science by holding events, which are generally held once a month and include bringing in speakers from professional fields. FOSEP recently hosted former state representative Gloria Johnson to speak on how policy works in the state. A possible upcoming event is a debate about policy between two opposing ethical sides. Ethics play a vital role in the creation and support of scientific experiments and the policies associated with it.

The group establishes science as the foundation of all conversation. They aim to have a bipartisan and factual discussion about  issues in the scientific community and how these issues relate to society as a whole. Conversations range from topics on genetically engineered foods to climate change.

While FOSEP is still in the early stages, members are searching for a main focal point and identity. “We’re working on what we want to focus on, what our identity is compared to the other programs around the country,” Victoria DiStefano, FOSEP president, said. As a new club, the main goal of FOSEP is recruitment of new members. Membership is currently mostly graduate students, but FOSEP hopes to gain undergraduate members to increase the sustainability of the club. “We’ve intended FOSEP to be a forum both for scientists but also for nonscientists,” Kirkegaard said. The program also seeks more diverse membership to provide opposing opinions throughout the group and to create a more effective conversation.

 The club is operating on campus and various local platforms now, but wants to expand to the national level. “Being able to communicate to the people who actually make the policies is very important,” DiStefano said. “I think nationally, it’s become recognized as a very important issue. How do we communicate our science to lawmakers? How do we interact with them to say what’s important?”

Another function of FOSEP is to integrate nontraditional career paths. FOSEP is looking to send individuals from the science field into political careers in D.C. where they will learn how to develop legislation that involves scientific principles.

Will Hartwig, founder and postdoctoral advisor of FOSEP at UT, suggests the club’s strong leadership will play a vital role in FOSEP and how engaged officers will contribute to success in the future. “Scientists just can’t remain on the sidelines,” Hartwig said.57e15d2a087c8-image

FOSEP at UTK Voterpalooza!

FOSEP joined fellow politically-oriented groups for the recent Voterpalooza event, hosted by the UT Political Science students in the Howard Baker Center. Thank you to everyone that stopped by and made the event so much fun!

FOSEP watches the first 2016 Presidential Debate

FOSEP joined fellow students at the Howard Baker Center Toyota Auditorium to watch the first 2016 Presidential Debate. After meeting up for pre-debate discussion and fun at dinner beforehand, the group enjoyed a festive atmosphere and some debate BINGO while learning more about the candidates’ ideas and policies.

Keep an eye out for similar events to watch the next two debates with FOSEP (and BINGO)!

And remember to register to vote if you haven’t already! Make it easy and fill out your voter registration at the Baker Center, or look up how to register online. Every vote counts!

Recap of the first meeting of the fall semester

The first FOSEP meeting was kicked off by President Victoria DiStefano, who gave an overview of the organization and the upcoming aims for the semester. Scott Satinover volunteered for the open interim position of Recruitment Officer – welcome, Scott, and thank you!

Mark Christian talked about his experience developing the house bill HB2151, giving tips and guidance about the most effective way to get things done in the political environment (remember to wear a suit, get there early, and know your stuff!). He also went in to how to develop the message behind a bill like that, details of which can be found in our minutes below, or by emailing us at

Guinevere Shaw then discussed her experience with Knoxville’s Volunteer Community Network and her success winning 3rd place in the Howard Baker Public Policy Challenge. She gave advice on how to create a policy pitch for the panel, and the lessons she learned trying to create something to bridge the gap between students and volunteer opportunities in schools. Guinevere also named current outreach programs like GAME and Volunteer Knoxville, for those interested in pursuing such opportunities. Once again, more details can be found in the minutes or by emailing us with your questions.

Future events were discussed, including the upcoming big event for the semester: our invited science policy speaker Gregory Mack! The event will be held October 25th at 5pm in the Baker Center Toyota Auditorium. Keep an eye out for more information as well as for other upcoming events we will be hosting regularly.

A survey is available for you to fill out what meeting times and topics you would like to see from FOSEP. Follow this link and thank you in advance for providing us with valuable feedback! We look forward to tailoring this chapter of FOSEP to meet your interests!

Some additional events that may be of interest include:

Wed., Sept. 28, 5 pm Voterpalooza! – Hear from students representing the Presidential candidates in a fun and open atmosphere! Sponsored by UT Political Science students.

Thursday, September 29, 1-2:30 pm – E&E FORUM: Michael Hutchins, Director of American Bird Conservancy’s (ABC’s) Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign

Thursday, September 30, from 10 am–12 pm the Office of Research & Engagement Open House in Blount Hall

Tuesday, October 4, 6:30 pm Science Policy and the Election – a roundtable discussion of current issues in science and where the presidential candidates stand