Our organization

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is an independent nonprofit that puts rigorous, independent science into action, developing solutions and advocating for a healthy, safe, and just future. We envision a peaceful, healthy, and just world where science serves people and the planet by guiding policy decisions, reducing risks, and improving lives.

For over five decades, we have been working as scientists, engineers, economists, advocates, and everyday people to create and advocate for innovative, practical solutions to some of our planet’s most pressing problems—from combating global warming and developing sustainable ways to feed, power, and transport ourselves, to fighting disinformation, advancing racial equity, and reducing the threat of nuclear war. Values informing our work include:

  • Science in the service of people and the planet.
  • Justice and Equity for people of all races and incomes—now, and for future generations.
  • Courage to take principled, science-based stands in the public arena.
  • Integrity to always examine evidence critically, openly, and honestly.
  • Democracy to promote a voice for all in government decisions.
  • Action inspiring and mobilizing people to build a healthier, safer, and more just world.

UCS’s Food & Environment Program

The Food and Environment (F&E) team at UCS seeks an economics generalist to bring social science, and particularly economics, expertise to the Food and Environment’s (F&E) interdisciplinary team of scientists, analysts, advocates, outreach, and communications staff. The F&E team works together to advance strong, analytically informed food and agriculture policies leading to a healthy, just, equitable, and sustainable food and farming system. Under the direction of the Research Director, the economist/social scientist contributes broad economics expertise, working collaboratively with members of the F&E team and across UCS programs to plan, carry out, and communicate policy-relevant research and analysis to lend credibility to our campaigns and help achieve our policy goals.

The Position


  • Develop, conduct, and communicate economics research and analyses that supports F&E campaigns.
    • Conduct rigorous, media-resonant, and policy-relevant applied economics research across a broad range of topics relevant to the US food and farm system including land tenure, labor, agricultural production, value chains, environmental health, food security, nutrition, and climate change.
    • Develop and maintain economics, scientific, and policy expertise relevant to sustainable agriculture, food and farm systems, and environmental health, including impacts of USDA policies and programs on humans and on economies of various scales.
    • Maintain strong working relationships with academic colleagues, relevant experts, and influential stakeholders at other institutions to exchange information, share resources, and generally strengthen UCS’s leadership role on food and agriculture economics and policy.
  • Evaluate existing and proposed federal policies and contribute to policy recommendations grounded in science.
    • Evaluate current and proposed federal food and agriculture policies and programs, including assessing the potential economic impacts and identifying the potential for policies to create, exacerbate, or help mitigate inequities or injustices.
    • In collaboration with F&E’s government affairs team, review existing and proposed public policies and policy advocacy materials, particularly those that have an economic or human behavior component, to ensure social scientific soundness and alignment with F&E and UCS short- and long-term goals.
    • Represent UCS and F&E, as an economics/social scientific and policy expert, with policymakers and government agencies, in coalition spaces, and with other stakeholders.
  • Communicate economics and other social science-based recommendations to the media and other public audiences.
    • Engage with relevant media professionals, including providing comments on the record, information on background, and responding to interview requests, to communicate UCS and F&E positions and policies, including highlighting the harm posed by the current US farm and food system.
    • Author and contribute to posts on the UCS blog as an economics expert to explain and amplify F&E and UCS work across the food and agriculture science and policy space.
    • Produce and contribute to clear and compelling written materials that communicate complex social science in accessible ways to diverse audiences, including policymakers, journalists, and the public at large.
  • Contribute to overall program and campaign goals, strategies, and tactics.
    • As the F&E expert in economics, apply technical knowledge to help the team develop annual, short-, medium-, and long-term goals, including input on proposed research projects, public policy proposals, and advocacy strategies that advance the program’s goals.
    • In support of F&E and UCS goals, contribute to fundraising tactics as necessary, including interacting with UCS members, foundation staff, and major donors.
  • Other Duties as Assigned
    • Up to 20% of any individual job may contain work that is not specifically listed in this document. This may reflect temporary assignments, individual professional development opportunities (e.g., learning a new set of skills, participating in a professional growth experience), and/or a requirement to serve in an organizational citizenship capacity (e.g., participating in JEDI activities, pitching in/volunteering for extra work, covering for a colleague on leave).


Qualifications and Experience

  • Relevant education (master’s- or doctoral-level degree) and experience (3-5 years) in associated social science field, for example, applied agricultural, environmental, resource, or food system economics or other appropriate discipline.
  • Ability to develop and conduct applied economics research including market failures and externalities across a wide range of issues related to food, agriculture, social equity, and economies at various scales.
  • Analytically oriented, with a comprehensive understanding of the appropriate use of economics and other relevant social science technical information and methods in the policymaking process.
  • Generalist knowledge of scientific, economic, and public policy issues related to agriculture, food systems, and the environment.
  • Interest in or experience working on a variety of topics related to the food and farming system, for example water quality, soil health, conservation agriculture, food supply chains, nutrition programs, racial equity, social justice, and/or local and rural economics.
  • Strong writing and speaking skills, including demonstrated ability to communicate about complex economics and other social scientific matters to lay audiences.
  • Proven collaboration and relationship-building skills, both within immediate team and with external and diverse stakeholders.
  • Project management skills, including ability to effectively prioritize and accomplish both larger and smaller, often rapid response, projects while maintaining high quality of work.

May spend extended periods at computer.

Regular office hours may include occasional nights and weekends in connection with events, work-related travel or, rarely, deadlines.

Occasional overnight domestic travel required, including to conferences (expected 0 – 2 per year), UCS outreach (expected 0 – 2 per year), and programmatic functions like UCS or F&E retreats (expected 1 – 2 per year).

UCS is an equal opportunity employer actively seeking to diversify its staff. We’re dedicated to broadening opportunities for individuals from demographic groups that are historically underrepresented in the sciences and in environmental advocacy. We’re also committed to building an inclusive workplace culture where talented people of widely diverse backgrounds can thrive. We believe the inclusion of culturally diverse perspectives will improve our work and produce better societal and environmental outcomes for all, including historically disenfranchised communities.



This is a full-time remote position based near one of four UCS offices, with a preference for DC. For those who meet all position requirements, the salary range is $80,531 to $90,600. UCS offers excellent benefits and a rewarding work environment. *CA Resident Only, we offer a 12% salary differential*

Information about the organization is available at http://www.ucsusa.org.

Comparable training and/or experience can be substituted for degrees when appropriate.

More about the team:

Our team is made up of a dedicated group of researchers, scientists, communicators, campaigners, and advocates from wide-ranging backgrounds and experiences. We are committed to building a diverse and inclusive team and a collaborative and supportive work environment where all staff can thrive. We continually strive to create an environment which is a welcoming place for the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, parents, empty-nesters, and people with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds.

To Apply: We know there are great candidates who won’t check all these boxes, and we also know you might bring important skills that we haven’t considered. If that’s you, don’t hesitate to apply and tell us about yourself. Please upload a cover letter and a resume. In the cover letter, please confirm that the listed salary meets your expectations. Upload materials in Word or PDF format only. No phone calls, please.

This position is in the bargaining unit.

Covid Mandate for New Hires:

For in office roles, UCS employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees are considered fully vaccinated as defined by the CDC. All new hires who will be reporting to an office location must provide notice of their vaccination status and vaccination documentation, on or before their first day of work. For all others, UCS strongly encourages full vaccinations among its employees, up to and including booster shots, even if working remotely.

All new employees must comply with the mandatory vaccination requirements outlined in UCS policies as soon as practicable. The Union of Concerned Scientists will notify candidates for employment of the requirements of this policy before the start of employment.

Deadline: Until filled.