Where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on science policy

The 2016 presidential platforms for science and education at a glance.

With the Democratic and Republican National Conventions over, it’s official: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the presidential candidates for the 2016 election. What does that mean for the future of American science and research? We take a closer look at both candidates’ science policies. From climate change and healthcare to issue areas that affect the practice of science, like education and immigration, here’s where the candidates stand:

Science Platforms Graphic


Researcher commentary

kraussAn astrophysicist at Arizona State University, Lawrence Krauss is a prominent figure in the world of science, but his influence reaches far beyond the ivory tower. He is also a public science activist and co-founder of ScienceDebate, a campaign for a presidential debate on science, tech, health, and environmental issues.

Lawrence Krauss: “It is difficult this election cycle to even pretend to sound non-partisan. There has perhaps never been a bigger divide in attitudes toward science between the two parties, both in the views of their candidates and in their official platforms than in 2016.

Unfortunately, in virtually every respect, the Republican Party has become the anti-science party. It was certainly not always that way, but over the last three campaigns there has been a steady drift, culminating in the choice of Donald Trump and Michael Pence to head the Republican ticket this year. From climate change denial, to anti-vax attitudes of Trump, to even a denial by Pence of the connection between smoking and cancer, there seems to be little connection between the Republican platform and empirical reality. Trump’s has expressed policies that are essentially anti-education, and anti-environment, and has shown no support for scientific research as well.

The Democratic platform is strong on climate change, the environment, and support for research, but these issues are not being emphasized. Support for immigration, especially in STEM subjects, is one hot button topic that the Clinton campaign is emphasizing. For science, research, and their impact on the economy, election of Trump would simply be a disaster.”

williamsSheneka M. Williams is an education policy expert whose teaching and research bridges policy and practice in K-12 schools and school districts. She began her career in education as a high school social studies teacher and debate coach in Alabama. Dr. Williams is currently an associate professor and coordinator in the Program of Educational Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia.

Sheneka M. Williams: “Clinton and Trump differ on the concept of educational opportunity for students. Clinton, in her former years, was a proponent of charter schools and competition. However, she now blames charters for cream skimming students. Trump hopes that competition among charters, magnets, and traditional public schools will make all of them become better at educating the nation’s students. To date, research does not support the theory that competition increases student outcomes.

In terms of higher education, Trump argues that some colleges and universities should bear the burden of students’ loan debt. He also proposes that universities consider students’ earning potential when they choose majors and take out student loans. Opponents argue that his plan will 'force' students into certain fields and lessen the numbers of students interested in liberal arts degrees. This, in short, narrows the meaning of education. Clinton, on the other hand, proposes free community college and free four-year college for families whose incomes fall below $85,000 and later $125,000. Clinton’s higher education plan encourages college access for all students, while Trumps plan discourages students who are interested in the arts.

Both candidates’ plans have long term implications for the nation’s economy. ‘Free college’ as proposed by Clinton isn’t necessarily free. Meaning, how will the nation pick up the tab? And Trump’s idea of tying student loans to students’ majors limits students’ access to educational opportunity and the arts-based economy.”