The Science Policy Bootcamp is a 5-day short course, offered during MIT's Independent Activities Period in January, designed to introduce participants to the 'nuts and bolts' of science policy making. The course provides an opportunity for young scientists and engineers interested in science policy issues to increase their understanding about and practical involvement with science policy. The bootcamp serves to both expose participants to the fundamental structure and dynamics of science policy and inform them of routes into a policy experience or career.

For the first time, in Spring 2019, SPI is excited to offer a 4-day, non-credit version of our popular Science & Technology Policy Bootcamp over MIT Spring Break, taught by David Goldston, the current director of the MIT Washington Office.

This course will start with an overview of the origins and structures of federal science and technology policy in the U.S., and then will probe perennial and current issues that arise in the use of science in policy, and in the governance of science. Topics will include the use of science in environmental policy, questions regarding conflicts of interest, and current debates on international competition in science and technology. The course will be built around class discussions of a variety of readings, including of Congressional hearings, reports from think tanks, and perhaps court decisions and even a play.

Undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs from all faculties are welcome to apply! Note this course is non-credit only and enrollment is limited.

More about bootcamp

The 2019 Science and Technology Policy Bootcamp was held Monday, January 28 to Friday, February 1, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm (Monday-Thursday), 9:00 am - 12:00 pm (Friday).

Topics discussed included:

  • The drivers behind science and technology support: growth economics, direct and indirect innovation factors, innovation systems theory, the “valley of death” between R&D and public-private partnership models.

  • The organizing framework behind US science agencies, and the DARPA model as an alternative.

  • The way innovation is organized when it’s face-to-face, including "great group" theory.

  • The barriers and challenges to health science advance.

  • The energy technology challenge – how the science/tech innovation system needs to be organized to meet it within an existing and established complex legacy economic sector.

  • The challenges for advanced manufacturing and scaling-up startups.

The course consisted of lectures, readings, and discussions Monday through Thursday, and a panel on Friday morning. This course was offered both for credit and not for credit. Credit was based on class participation and a short paper. Those participating in the MIT Graduate Certificate Program in Science, Technology, and Policy ( were required to take the IAP course for credit.

There is no cost to attend, but accepted students MUST commit to attend all sessions to earn a spot. Class participants will have the opportunity to apply what they learn by participating in the MIT Science Policy Initiative (SPI) Congressional Visit Days in Washington, D.C. in Spring 2019.

Contact: Ayesha Bajwa,