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words "Democracy Project Circle" surrounded by science icons, including microscopes, field work gear, and safety glasses

Science, democracy, and the wellbeing of our communities are inextricably intertwined. As scientists, CBS students and graduates hold both a unique ability to understand scientific information, and the responsibility to understand the real-world implications of science. Through the Democracy Project, CBS strives to provide students with resources to act and engage at the intersection of these two spaces. This knowledge should be utilized to inform and influence policies, program funding, and approaches to solving problems impacting our communities.


Democracy Project Events:
Each semester CBS hosts a Democracy Project event where students have an opportunity to develop skills and explore concepts that prepare them to successfully address challenges our world and communities face that exist at the intersection of science, civic engagement, and social change. 

Themes of these events may include:

  • Educating and promoting scientific literacy within the community.
  • Using scientific knowledge to advocate and engage in democracy.
  • Promoting scientifically grounded and culturally competent solutions to problems.
  • Advocating for policy that reflects a knowledge of science and the needs of the community.

Past events have included panels on civic engagement as a scientist, peer discussions on student activism, and seminars focused on scientific communication. To learn more about this semester’s Democracy Project event visit z.umn.edu/CBSDemocracyProjectEvent.


Being a Civically-Engaged Scientist 

Despite the fact that science is on the ballot in every election, only 43.6% of STEM students voted in 2016, lower than students studying within any other academic field. Your vote matters and has power! Use it to support candidates in local, state, and national elections who foster and promote scientific discovery and policy solutoins that are rooted in scientific fact. To learn more about how to be an informed and engaged member of the community, check out the resources below. 

  • Get Registered: The University of Minnesota partners with TurboVote to provide all eligible students with the resources to participate in elections. Through this site, students from any state can register to vote, check the status of their registration, request a mail-in ballot, and set up voting reminders. Remember, different states have different rules and deadlines for voter registration, so make sure to act early to ensure you can participate.
  • Get Informed: It is critical that before you cast your vote, you take time to understand what you are voting on and who you are voting for. Ballot Ready can help you learn about who is on your ballet, compare the candidates, and see what proposals you will be voting on. BallotPedia can help you research individual candidates and ballot measures. AllSides assesses the political bias of prominent media outlets and presents diverse perspectives. Causes can show how elected officials have voted on recent bills. Make sure you know your rights as a voter before going to vote. 
  • Cast Your Vote: When it comes time to vote, you can either cast your ballot in-person on election day or vote absentee via a mail-in ballot. Many states also offer in-person early voting. Individuals voting by mail can check their ballot status to ensure it is received by election day. 
  • Find Other Ways to Engage: Check out March for Science to learn about various policies and reforms happening in STEM. View Research America to learn about how to take action and advocate for health and medical research. Have conversations with individuals from various communities to understand their perspectives and solutions to important scientific challenges. Participate in demonstrations and protests that reflect your values. 

Case Study Competition

Expand your collaborative-leadership and problem-solving skills, gain experience presenting scientific findings, and think about meeting the needs of communities with science through the CBS Case Study Competition. 

The annual CBS Case Study Competition, held at the beginning of the spring semester, is a fun one-day event that gives students an opportunity to work in teams to explore the intersection of community and science and come up with an innovative solution to a challenge facing today's scientists. Teams of 3-4 students will be presented with a scientific challenge in either healthcare/public health or ecology and the environment and will have time throughout the day to research the topic and create a solution that addresses the challenge. Members of CBS faculty and staff serve as coaches to support student teams during the event. At the conclusion of the event, teams present their solutions to the judges and winning teams are selected for each category. All members of each winning team receive a cash prize! 

Read more about our inaugural competition here.


Market Science

Market Science is a collective of scientists from the University of Minnesota and around the Twin Cities sharing science through hands-on learning activities for kids, answering scientific questions for market goers, and creating conversations between researchers and their communities. 


SciSpark Scholars

SciSpark Scholars is a partnership between the Mayo Clinic and the College of Biological Sciences committed to rebuilding pre-K-12 science education. The SciSpark Scholars program strives to engage students and empower teachers through research-based, experiential classroom learning. 


Volunteer in the Community

The Center for Community-Engaged Learning (CCEL) offers advising to students and student groups who want to volunteer at organizations outside the University of Minnesota. CCEL works with partners to provide opportunities for students to engage in off-campus experiential learning through community work and place-based educational programs. Schedule an appointment with a CCEL advisor to get support in connecting with a service site in the Twin Cities community.