Support Systems for Scientists’ Communication and Engagement: An Exploration of the People and Institutions Empowering Effective Impact – Summary of initiative, landscape reports and workshops
Many scientists want to connect with the public, but their efforts to do so are not always easy or effective. Visionary programs and institutions are leading the way identifying the support needed to enable scientists’ connections with the public. However, the current appetite by -- and demand for -- scientists to do this exceeds the capacity of those who facilitate quality communication and engagement efforts. More can be done to ensure that those who support scientists are networked, sharing best practices, and supported by a reliable infrastructure.
This workshop series, convened by the Kavli, Rita Allen, Packard and Moore Foundations, was intended to view the entire system of people who support scientists’ engagement and communication efforts in order to explore how this system can be most effective and sustainable. The discussions examined where this system is thriving, the limits people within the system face and what can be done to ensure their efforts are commensurate with the demand for quality communication and engagement support.
Conducted over four closely scheduled workshops in late 2017 and early 2018, the convenings brought together leaders in different parts of the field who bridge scientists and the public and led to the emergence of a number of key priority areas. While the initial intention was to also hold a plenary event to provide a more holistic view of scientists’ support system in order to collectively discern directions to advance the field, we feel a more efficient way forward right now is to focus our efforts and resources on building community and advancing these priority areas.
Our invitation-only workshops brought together scientists, academic leaders, engagement professionals, researchers, communication trainers, and foundation leaders. For each workshop, we also commissioned a “landscape overview”, to better understand the high-level state of each community. Workshops included:
Workshop I: Communication and engagement training programs - Dec. 4-5, 2017 at SUNY Global Center/Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science in New York
Workshop II: Associations, societies and other professional organizations - Feb. 28 - March 1, 2018 at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, MD
Workshop III: Academic institutions - March 27-28, 2018 at UC San Diego
Workshop IV: Science engagement facilitators (museums, science festivals, connectors) - May 2-3, 2018 at Monterey Bay Aquarium
TBD - Workshop V: Plenary event
The goal of the workshops was to explore how to ensure scientists’ communication and engagement support is effective and sustained. In doing so, we hoped to 1) deepen our understanding of how scientists are currently supported in these areas, 2) map the broader support system to expose the opportunities and obstacles that play a role in achieving this goal, and 3) identify strategic and practical next steps that move us closer to this goal. This initiative also aimed to forge and strengthen networks across communities and institutions – and in so doing, take a view of the entire system to explore how everyone can better ensure their efforts are impactful, mutually supportive, and connected to a greater whole.
Included in the links below are summaries from each workshop.