Speakers shared insights on fostering greater interaction between scientists and non-scientists during an April 18 webinar titled “Inspiring Others to be Science Advocates” hosted by the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) and Research!America. The webinar was the third in a series of four aimed at strengthening advocates’ understanding of science communication, policy and public opinion research on the scientific enterprise.
“I found that since the election in 2016, it doesn’t take much to get people interested [in advocacy],” said Dr. Monica Linden, senior lecturer at Brown University. “What I find is really helpful for keeping them interested is showing them how easy some of these advocacy efforts can be.” Linden said organizations like SfN are a great resource for advocacy resources, including methods for contacting lawmakers.
Cynthia Gibbs, founder and director of Science Pub RVA encouraged scientists to participate in informal lecture and discussion series, such as the ones her group organizes. “People are hungry for meaningful experiences, community connection and learning about what you do, why you do it, why it matters,” Gibbs said, adding that scientists should try to connect emotionally with the audience and “think about what you will give them, the takeaways, the experience, the feelings they’ll have.”
Dr. Rick Karnesky, co-boss, Nerd Nite East Bay, said the best way to engage the public is to get off campus and go to where the public hangs out. He added that good science communication is often highly interdisciplinary, and he encouraged scientists to work with artists, podcasters, media and musicians to create memorable presentations. “Some of the most successful science communication doesn't reek of science communication,” Karnesky said.
To watch a recording of the April 18 webinar, click here.