Welcome to Periodically Political, a podcast by Elect STEM. In this episode we have the founders of Elect STEM, Darren Anderson, Monika Stolar and Chris Caputo discuss their vision for the organization and what listeners can expect from this podcast series.
Chris Caputo 0:12
Welcome to periodically political, a podcast from elect stem. We seek to make science nonpartisan by engaging more scientists in politics. My name is Chris Caputo, and I'm joined by my other co founders, Monika Stolar and Darren Anderson, welcome both of you to the podcast.
Monika Stolar 0:31
Yeah. Thanks for having us, Chris.
Darren Anderson 0:33
Excited to be part of this exercise.
Chris Caputo 0:38
Yeah, so this is essentially episode zero for our listeners. We wanted to give some background on to, you know, what our goals are as an organization. And Darren, as one of the co founders, do you want to kind of summarize this for our listeners?
Darren Anderson 0:56
Sure, absolutely. Chris mentioned earlier, the idea is to try to make science, nonpartisan, by engaging more scientists in politics. And our perspective is that scientists and engineers tend to be reluctant to run for public office. And there's a variety of reasons. And we'll get into some of them over the course of the podcast and some of our other articles. But we really want to demystify the process of running for public office, for people with a stem background really help it make it more accessible, and a little bit more straightforward. By doing that, we expect that there will be more scientists actively engaged in the public sphere in politics, and also more actively engaged in running for public office. And if we have more scientists represented at all levels of government, across all political parties, then science will always have a seat at the table, when major decisions are being made.
Chris Caputo 1:52
Yeah, that's summarized it really well. And in addition to the goals of the organization, you know, it's important for our listeners to get a sense of why we started this initiative. So I'm going to toss this over to you, Monika, could you tell us a bit about why you decided to co-found elect stem?
Monika Stolar 2:11
Yeah, for sure. I guess what really brought me to like stem as my passion for science communication. And the way I personally see this is encouraging more scientists to become involved in politics is another unique Avenue, we can sort of promote science, education and awareness to the public and to also political decision making. It kind of goes with my personal goals of teach everyone about science, make sure everyone knows about science in a different kind of way.
Darren Anderson 2:38
In my case, Chris, the reason that that I thought it was important to co founder like stem is I think science has had an amazing transformative effect on humanity. I think it's been a force for good, not always, but in general. And I think that the progress that we've been able to make because of science is, is just incredible. I mean, even if we just look now at the fact that we were able to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in a year, for those of you that are listening to Episode 03, or four years down the road, hopefully you still remember this. But it was an absolutely incredible scientific feat. And I think that it's really important that we continue to build a broad base of support for the activity of science, across our public space. Because if science becomes politicized, then we lose our ability to make progress as, as a society. So what about you, Chris? Why did you decide to co-found elect stem?
Chris Caputo 3:37
Something that I've always been, you know, interested in is understanding better why we don't see more stem educated folks in elected office, you know, in, in reality, there's the one article that was recently published highlighting that it's like less than 10% of elected officials. And I think even 10% is pretty high. Have education in the sciences, or engineering or medicine or things like this. And that's not reflective of the general population. It's upwards of closer I believe, 20%. And so, you know, trying to equalize that out. So, you know, science has a seat at the table is something that I think was or is really important. And, you know, I think it also was kind of catalyzed by the pandemic in general, when we were all locked down. It was almost like a curiosity, it began, it's like, okay, now's the time to focus on this. Clearly, there's an important scientific issue at hand, we should really find a way of getting more scientists elected to the table.
This podcast is a critical piece to our goals of getting more scientists elected, particularly because we want to demystify the process of running for public office by interviewing folks with a stem educated background who have made that jump.
Monika Stolar 4:56
Yeah, I think this is a great idea to host guests who both have a STEM background and are involved in politics, they can actually provide a personal perspective and teach our listeners about the process and what their experiences like. I'm actually really excited to interview a lot of these people and learn for myself. There's a lot of things I don't know about politics or how to get there. But I would love to see from a scientific point of view as well.
Darren Anderson 5:21
I completely agree, I think it will be really exciting. And the guest list that we have lined up already is, has already been really interesting to learn from and those podcasts will be released over the next little while. But, Chris Monika, so you know, we're learning from all of these folks. Their experience running for public office, any plans for either of you to run for public office someday?
Monika Stolar 5:42
Well, given that it's only been a few years since I finished my PhD, and I'm just really starting the adult lifestyle, you never know. We'll see what happens. How about you, Chris? I think Well,
Chris Caputo 5:55
I'd like to demystify it for others first. Let's let's get like stem off the ground, and really get a good understanding and see some results. And maybe we'll see what the future has in store. Darren, how about you?
Darren Anderson 6:10
I've always been politically curious. So I agree, I think we'll see how this evolves and what we learned. But it's certainly been something I've thought about in the past, and who knows what the what the future will hold.
So, Monika, you know, we've got a good set of guest lists, guests already invited, we've had a few episodes that we've already recorded that we'll be releasing shortly. What kind of guests do we plan to have on this podcast?
Monika Stolar 6:36
Yeah, I'm glad you actually asked that. We're planning to host a variety of STEM background officials, or individuals, anyone who sort of has a stem background and has experience in government or policymaking. As a cross partisan organization, we also want to cover all the levels of government, all the parties and all across Canada. But so we really want to cover all of Canada and show all of our listeners how it works across Canada. But I think Chris is better at wrapping this part up. And he could tell us more about the podcast and what else we have plans.
Chris Caputo 7:07
Happy to do so. So we plan to publish the podcasts every two weeks, and we'll be releasing them on Fridays. So you can enjoy them over the weekend, when you're all relaxing. We also plan to publish interesting articles that kind of intersect science and politics on our website. You know, on the alternative weeks where the podcast isn't being published. Some of these could include profiles of elected officials that have a stem background studies of specific legislatures and looking at their proportion of STEM educated officials. And, you know, eventually we'd love to report about how tos, for running for public office. And as we learn these details, we will be reporting them through our website. So you know, you can follow us on Twitter @electstem. And you can find all these details also on our website, which is www.electstem.com.
Darren Anderson 8:06
Great. Thanks, Chris. And if anybody has ideas for people that they'd like us to interview and that they'd like to hear from, please reach out to us and let us know. We're building out a guest list and we'd love to love to know who you'd be interested in in hearing from so you can reach out to us on Twitter, or you can contact us through the website. And also if this is interesting to you, please share it with your communities and rate and review periodically political wherever you get your podcasts as it will help other politics curious scientists and engineers like Chris, Monika, and myself discovered the show!