Language advocates on the Hill at the 2014 JNCL-NCLIS meeting

From promoting scientific research funding to supporting multilingual education, the LSA is active in a broad range of policy issues affecting language and linguistics. Our advocacy work is focused in four main areas:

Linguistics Research informing Public Policy

Advocating for the LSA and Linguistics​

Committees Involved in Policy Issues 

External LSA Partners

LSA staff and leaders work with external organizations and internal groups to inform policymakers and opinion leaders about the important role of linguistics in benefiting the broader public. Members with an interest in policy issues are encouraged to stay informed and take part in the LSA's work.

Audio & Video Resources

30th Anniversary of Native American Languages Act: New Language Bill

Udall, Murkowski Mark the 30th Anniversary of Native American Languages Act, Announce New Bipartisan Native American Language Bill

On October 30th, 2020, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Native American Languages Act (NALA) with the announcement of new bipartisan legislation, the Durbin Feeling Native American Languages Act of 2020, to ensure the federal government is living up to policies and principles set out in NALA three decades ago. You can learn more about the bill by visiting the report (linked above), as well as have access to the full bill and Udall's full remarks. 

Action Alerts:

New ICE Ruling

The LSA opposes new rules which make it more difficult for international students to enter or remain in the United States. Linguistics, in particular, would be particularly impacted by burdens which would discourage international students from choosing to study at US universities, or to consider leaving the US before completing their degrees.

Given the focus of linguistics on language diversity, many linguistics graduate programs have large numbers of international students, because they bring a wealth of knowledge about different languages that do not have significant populations of speakers in the United States. International students also contribute to our work on English and other US-based languages because of their fresh perspective as native speakers of a different language.

International graduate students often serve as TAs/Instructors for college classes; by learning from international students, domestic undergrads receive a broader perspective, in their classes, and domestic students benefit from having international students as classmates for similar reasons.

The existing visa regime is sufficiently secure, and placing additional onerous burdens on students who wish to study at US institutions will only impede the ability of these schools to attract the best students.

Native American Language Resource Center (NALRC)

The LSA launched a campaign in support of a federall funded Native American Resource Center. You can take action by going to the the campaign page (linked above) and using the sample letters to contact Congress members.

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation

Tell Congress to Reject Cuts to the National Science Foundation

The President’s budget request proposed deep cuts to National Science Foundation. Write to your Members of Congress and tell them why supporting funding for social science research at the NSF (a major funder of linguistic research) is important. Use the link above to visit the Consortium of Social Science Associations' action alert where you can write to your representatives now and urge them to reject these cuts! 

Tell Congress to Reject Cuts to the Institute of Education Science and International Education and Foreign Language Programs

The President’s Budget Request proposed steep cuts to social science programs at the Department of Education. Use the link above to visit the Consortium of Social Science Associations' action alert where you can use their email generator to write your Members of Congress and tell them why you support funding for social science and education research at the Department of Education.

Take Action for the NEH

President Trump proposed the elimination of the NEH. Go to the National Humanities Alliance page (linked above) and use their email generator to urge your Members of Congress to reject this proposal and support increased funding for the NEH in FY 2021.

Take Action for the National Archives

President Trump proposed cuts to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which houses archives of many endangered languages, and the elimination of the National Historical Publications & Records Commission in his FY 2021 budget request. Go to the National Humanities Alliance page (linked above) and use their email generator to write your Member of Congress.

More Action Alerts at the Joint National Committee for Languages Website

Archived Policy Alerts and Advocacy Initiatives:

View past policy issues and advocacy initiatives on the LSA Archived Policy Alerts and Advocacy Initiatives page linked above. 

Linguistics Research informing Public Policy:

Linguistics research has important implications for policies relating to K-12 education, national security, technology, health care, the judicial system, and many other critical aspects of everyday life. Linguists have worked closely with officials in state and federal agencies to help shape and inform their policies governing a wide range of issues. Read more about the intersection of these topics in our Policy Issue Brief (pdf).

The intersection between language and public policy is explored in a new section of the LSA's scholarly journal, Language. This section on Language and Public Policy welcomes submissions from LSA members whose research is focused on these intersecting issues.

Advocating for the LSA and Linguistics​:

In recent years, the LSA has assumed a leadership role in the efforts of allied organizations to promote language documentation and revitalization work among tribal communities in North America, while also encouraging policymakers to support this work through related initiatives. The LSA frequently joins with other members of the scientific, humanistic and higher education communities to support and maintain federal funding for linguistics research, particularly via the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the U.S. Department of Education. The LSA works to highlight the benefits of linguistics research and to share the need for policies that are informed by the latest studies in the field. More detailed information about the LSA's advocacy efforts on behalf of the humanities is available here. We are also active in opposition to efforts to establish English as the official, or only language, of the USA (see also Arizona Teachers' English Fluency Initiative). 

In January 2016, the LSA organized its first-ever Advocacy Day in conjunction with its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. Attendees conducted Congressional office visits on the day before or after the conference was held. We encourage linguists to meet with elected officials in their home districts to share information about the value of linguistics research to their community and the nation.

On Earth Day, April 22nd, 2017, the LSA engaged in a formal partnership with the organizers of the March for Science, in Washington D.C. See photos from the event on the LSA Facebook Page.

Over the years, the LSA has issued a series of statements, resolutions and endorsements on a range of policy issues relating to language and linguistics, as well as called attention to several human rights issues.

LSA Committees Active on Policy Issues:

The LSA invites interested members to join one of these committees and/or get more involved individually on linguistic policy issues.

LSA External Partners on Policy Issues:

The LSA partners with a diverse array of colleague organizations and coalitions to advance its policy agenda. For some organizations, the LSA has appointed official delegates and liaisons to enhance further collaboration. The organizations most active on policy issues affecting linguists include:

Many of these organizations offer free electronic resources, newsletters, and action alerts on issues of interest to linguists, which LSA members may subscribe to directly by contacting these organizations. 

Audio & Video Resources:

Of particular interest may be CNSF's webinar (July 26th, 2018) entitled “Communicating the Value of NSF to Elected Officials”. The webinar focused on why continuing dialogue in the district is essential for communicating the value of science and offered advice about a range of ways for scientists and engineers to engage with elected officials while they are home in their districts. The accompanying presentation slides are available in PDF format.

CNSF Webinar: Communicating The Value of NSF to Elected Officials

Executive Director Alyson Reed and Professor Emeritus of University of California, Santa Cruz, Bill Laudsaw, organized a workshop: "Linguistics in the Public Sphere: An Advocacy Workshop" at the 2017 Linguistics Summer Institute. They discussed the intersection between linguistics and public policy, focusing on three points of intersection: 1) government funding for linguistics research; 2) public policies informed by (or should be) the findings of linguistics research; 3) public policies that affect the context in which linguistics operates as a discipline.

LSA 2017 - Alyson Reed and Bill Ladusaw - Symposium - July 26


Another helpful LSA resource: "Linguistics in the Public Sphere: an Advocacy Webinar" which was held with the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA). The webinar focused on strategies for linguistics advocacy to influence public policy.

Linguistics in the Public Sphere An Advocacy Webinar