Policy Entrepreneurship to Address Today’s Biggest Challenges

04.05.24 | 2 min read | Text by Jonathan Wilson

What started in 1945 as the Federation of Atomic Scientists – an organization wholly dedicated to eradicating the existential risk of nuclear weapons – now takes on a broader set of massively important and overlooked policy priorities as the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). FAS envisions a world where science, technology, ideas and talent are deployed to solve the biggest challenges of our time.

What distinguishes our work is the approach we bring to these issues, unlocking progress through “policy entrepreneurship” even in areas where tractability has long been elusive. 

While ‘policy entrepreneurship’ can take many forms, at FAS we believe that it starts with an understanding that many policymakers are motivated to drive change, but lack the capacity, expertise, and often, talent. The best policy proposals need to go beyond an initial idea to solve for those challenges as well.

When it comes to expertise – through its Day One publishing platform, FAS sources the best policy ideas from scientists and policy experts, and then helps these policy entrepreneurs refine their ideas and include implementation-ready action plans.

To help further foster blossoming policy entrepreneurs, FAS created its Policy Entrepreneurship Fellowship (PEF) to help participants take their policy memos from ideas to reality. During a six-month experience, hosted by FAS in partnership with the Aspen Institute, each PEF works as a part-time FAS affiliate to (i) help their specific ideas gain traction among practitioners and decision makers, and (ii) identify and pursue opportunities for impact in underlying policy areas of interest. PEF participants receive a $5,000 stipend as well as ongoing guidance from policy and technical experts in the FAS community, opportunities for formal training on topics like budgetary analysis and science communication, access to FAS programming and facilities, professional editing services, and more.

The PEF program has helped budding technologists and scientists recognize their potential to drive significant change at the federal level, and continues to pay dividends for the growing network of policy entrepreneurs surrounding FAS. Three members of the initial cohort of PEFs, Monica Sanders, Christopher Gillespie, Grace Wickerson, and Alexa White, have followed their fellowship experiences by deepening their involvement with federal policymaking – but each in different, but similarly impressive, ways. This series will briefly introduce you to their work.

Policy Entrepreneurship Profiles
Building a Digital Justice Framework: Monica Sanders
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Building Ecosystems: Christopher Gillespie
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Building Environmental Justice: Alexa White
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Building Health Equity: Grace Wickerson
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