COS 90-7
It takes a village to talk science: Science communications tools for administrators and educators

Thursday, August 8, 2013: 10:10 AM
L100F, Minneapolis Convention Center
Clarisse Hart, Harvard Forest, Harvard University, Petersham, MA
McOwiti Thomas, LTER Network Office, Albuquerque, NM
Julie E. Doll, Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University, Hickory Corners, MI
Marcia Nation, Global Institute of Sustainability, CAP LTER, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Kathleen Fallon Lambert, Science Policy Exchange, Harvard Forest (Harvard University), Petersham, MA
Susan Dailey, Southeast Environmental Research Center, Florida International University, Miami, FL

The skillset required to effectively communicate ecology to broad audiences is expanding; it incorporates not only a solid understanding of science, but also best practices from journalism, traditional and online marketing, creative writing, public speaking, education, and even psychology.

Field stations, university departments, and other research organizations are coming to recognize the value of effective science communication, but few can devote significant resources to the cause. Longtime administrators and informal educators are being asked to take on substantial communication duties (website overhauls, new social media channels, outreach to journalists and decision-makers) with little formal training and no ready peer network to consult. While organizations like COMPASS and the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program offer robust communication trainings for scientists, few resources are available for staff administrators and educators who want to build their own science communication skills, evaluate the impacts of their site’s existing communication efforts, or exchange best practices.

Small grass-roots networks, such as the communication working group within the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network, are now emerging to share best practices and coordinate trainings in science communication for scientists and staff alike. These integrated communities must communicate seamlessly to the public in order to effectively fulfill the "broader impacts" contract implicit in public funding and to inform sound environmental stewardship.


This presentation will share tools and techniques from the LTER working group and elsewhere, geared towards administrators and informal educators who are responsible for science communication. The discussion will help site- and program-level communicators to work more effectively with scientists to: 1) boost media interest in ecological findings, 2) develop accessible website content and social media, 3) target science outreach materials to decision-makers, and 4) build a strategy for evaluating success.