SS 5 - Outreach as Burden or Benefit?  Scientists Reflect and Describe their Experiences as Research Ambassador Fellows

Monday, August 8, 2011: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
4, Austin Convention Center
Organizer: Nalini Nadkarni
Co-organizer: Amy E. Stasch
Moderator: Nalini Nadkarni
Speakers: Matthew D. Hurteau , Molly G. Mehling , Rebecca Trueman , Denise Bruesewitz , Alan E. Wilson , Katie Renwick , Aurora Macrae-Crerar , Divya Uma , Doug J. Levey and Ankur R. Desai
Two of the most urgent environmental problems we face are the growing distance between humans and nature, and the widening gap between science and society. High-level science administrators have called for greater involvement of academic scientists – particularly ecologists – to become involved with public engagement, particularly of non-traditional and environmentally unaware public audiences. In response, we initiated the “Research Ambassador Program,” supported with a National Science Foundation grant from the Ecosystems Program. The mission is to make public engagement and meet broader impacts requirements efficient and effective. In 2011, we recruited ten ecologists as “Research Ambassador Fellows” to travel to Olympia, WA for three days of interdisciplinary dialogue and outreach opportunities with non-traditional audiences such as incarcerated men and women, faith-based communities, and senior citizens. For this Special Session, the Fellows will participate in a “fishbowl” roundtable discussion, describing their experiences and reflecting upon the challenges and opportunities they experienced. Specific questions we will address include: What are most efficient, effective, and creative means for researchers to engage in broader impacts? What are the costs and barriers to scientific engagement and how can they be overcome? What are the professional and personal benefits of such activities? This session will serve as an opportunity for synthesis of experiences, ideas, and lessons learned. The discussion will form the basis for a paper to be submitted to Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
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