Idaho’s Universities Join Forces to Launch Policy Fellowship Program

Idaho’s three universities are teaming up to provide three Idaho engineering or science policy fellows the opportunity to learn firsthand about policymaking through year-long fellowships.

The Idaho Science and Technology Policy Fellowship is a nonpartisan professional development program led by the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research at the University of Idaho, committed to offering doctoral-level scientists and engineers opportunities to engage in development and implementation of relevant state policies. Graduate and professional students, postdoctoral fellows and assistant professors at the three universities will be invited to participate in various aspects of the fellowship. Building capacity by targeting future leaders will help Idaho develop a trained workforce in science and technology policy.

“This program reflects a strong commitment from Idaho’s three universities to partner,” said Katherine Himes, McClure Center director. “We are thrilled to cultivate opportunities for scientists and engineers to connect their knowledge and skills to address pressing challenges facing Idaho and support state government.”

Boise State University, Idaho State University and University of Idaho are formalizing the program April 17 with an official signing of the memorandum of understanding. The first cohort will begin their fellowship in August 2020. It is expected that fellows will work on challenges in water, energy, public health and economic development, among other topics.

“We know experiences in state government often lead to careers dedicated to public service,” said Corey Cook, dean of the School of Public Service at Boise State. “As our state continues to grow, we want to retain the top talent that we’re cultivating in our universities. We also want to ensure that scientists, engineers and other professionals whose work profoundly impacts the public good have a solid understanding in how to help create smart policy for the benefit of all Idahoans. This fellowship program helps us accomplish both.”

Start-up funding is from the California Council on Science and Technology in partnership with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Simons Foundation. Additional funding will be sought prior to launching the first cohort.

The fellowship program is similar to a federal program started 45 years ago by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which places scientists and engineers in fellowships to support Congress, executive branch agencies and the judiciary.