Find Your Way Down The Slopes Of Engagement

Confidence and competence on the slopes of Mt. Hood, Oregon. Both are as vital to #scicomm as they are to skiing.

This winter, I’ve had the privilege to witness a bunch of kids learning to ski (admittedly, while finally truly learning to ski myself). While supporting my daughters – one a future Bode Miller downhill-bomber, and one who’s slightly more cautious but still a strong skier – I was struck by the many parallels (pun intended) between learning to ski and learning to engage beyond your peers. [Read more…]

Getting Out There: Making The Most Of Your Networks And Travels

Image by Meg Gilley.

Most of us have found ourselves in a new city for work or a conference, but how often have you taken advantage of the location to meet new people and expand your network? Maybe you’re planning to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting in February and you’re traveling all the way to Washington, D.C. This is a great opportunity to network and start to build relationships in the policy world.

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COMPASS At SMM 2015

San Francisco, image by Michael Craven (CC BY 2.0).

Next week, over 2,200 scientists will come together in San Francisco, CA for the Society for Marine Mammalogy’s 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals—and this year, they will be joined by an impressive group of fourteen journalists. These journalists have been awarded COMPASS travel fellowships to attend the conference and be a part of an intense week of engaging with scientists, hearing the latest research about marine mammals as sentinels of ocean issues, and ultimately sharing these stories with the wider world. [Read more…]

Briefing Debrief: “California’s Changing Oceans” Scientists Jenn Caselle, Francis Chan, Tessa Hill, And Kristy Kroeker

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On November 4, 2015, four eminent scientists came to Sacramento to deliver a briefing about our changing oceans. From ocean acidification to low oxygen zones, the scientists described the challenges that will confront California’s marine ecosystems in the years ahead. They also described how marine protected areas and long-term monitoring are informing our understanding of ocean change. Following the briefing, the scientists took a moment to reflect on the challenges and opportunities associated with bringing science to policymakers. [Read more…]

Briefing Debrief: ‘Shoring Up’ Scientists Share Their Perspectives On Visiting The Hill

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As many of our readers know, COMPASS works with scientists to help them share their work with the wider world – especially journalists and policymakers. Last week, COMPASS worked with the American Meteorological Society to bring four researchers to Capitol Hill to talk about the role of natural infrastructure in coastal protection.

This week marks the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, an event that catalyzed new federal investments and directives to understand how to build economic, community and ecological resilience for our nation’s coasts – efforts that have begun to bear fruit. This briefing brought together researchers to discuss the state of the science and our understanding of the benefits and trade-offs of using natural and nature-based approaches to enhance coastal resilience. See our previous blog post for more details.

As with all COMPASS policy events, our goal was to create an opportunity for the scientists to share what they know – and why it matters – with policymakers and to build relationships as trusted resources going forward.

Part of the fun is to hear from scientists what their experience was like. We asked them all a few questions about the day, and share some of their responses below.
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A Briefing Debrief: Scientist Tales From A Day On The Hill

Dr. Drew Harvell presenting at "Sea Sick: A science briefing on understanding the causes of marine disease and consequences for coastal communities," July 9, 2015. Image courtesy of the Office of Rep. Denny Heck.

This post is co-authored by COMPASS Science Engagement Specialist Heather Mannix.

Last week, COMPASS brought a team of scientists to Capitol Hill to participate in “Sea Sick: A science briefing on understanding the causes of marine disease and consequences for coastal communities.” As part of their pre-briefing preparation with the COMPASS team, these four scientists worked hard to understand their audience, coordinate their remarks, and make sure their science was clear, compelling, and relevant. With last year’s high profile sea star wasting disease epidemic on the West Coast likely to occur again this summer, and pending legislation on marine disease in the House of Representatives, this was an ideal time to bring the science related to these events to the forefront. As with all COMPASS policy events, our goal was to create an opportunity for the scientists to share what they know – and why it matters – with policymakers and to build relationships as trusted resources going forward.
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Erica Goldman, Our New Director Of Policy Engagement

Erica has helped scientists navigate the policy world for years.

COMPASS is excited to announce that Erica Goldman will be taking on a new role and new responsibilities as our Director of Policy Engagement. Since joining COMPASS over four years ago as Assistant Director of Science Policy Outreach, Erica has passionately and tirelessly worked towards COMPASS’ vision of helping more scientists engage, and engage effectively, in the public discourse about the environment. Erica is an uber-connector – she is always matchmaking, especially between policymakers and scientists – and a silo-buster, constantly looking for ways to bridge ideas, communities and concepts. Erica has helped scientists get to know their policy audiences, been a cultural bridge between the worlds of science and policy, and championed ways for academic scientists to include policy engagement in their careers. Erica has also helped ensure communication is part of scientific training, through her co-leadership of our #gradscicomm effort and as a mentor and voice for non-traditional PhD careers (like her own at COMPASS, which we are grateful for!).
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Learning By Doing: Insights From Meetings With Decision-Makers

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The conference room this past Sunday was full of nervous excitement, tinged with the tiredness that comes from a long day. Chad English and I had just spent an afternoon with the Switzer Environmental Fellows, practicing and preparing for their meetings with decision-makers in the morning. It was the wrap up of a two-month process, and the first time that many of them had shared their research in the context of policy.  As the fellows filtered out of the room, we answered lots of questions, from complicated ones about the role of advocacy in science advising, to more straightforward ones about what to wear and how long it would take to get to the meeting.
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Risking Engagement To Be Relevant

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We’re bombarded by headlines touting the public’s doubt in science. National Geographic’s March cover story begins: “We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge – from climate change to vaccinations – faces furious opposition.” As Dan Kahan says in his new paper What is the ‘Science of Science Communication’, “Never have human societies known so much about mitigating the dangers they face but agreed so little about what they collectively know.” For some of you, this only bolsters your resolve to engage. For others, it’s cause for wariness … or the impetus not to engage at all.

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Want to Get Policymakers Engaged With Your Field of Research? Integrate Them Into Your Scientific Conference

Panelists from left to right: 
Michael Curley, Environmental Law Institute
David Batker, Earth Economics
Jody Springer, Federal Emergency Management Agency   
Mary Ruckelshaus, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University
Mary Erickson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Laura Petes, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Moderator

This post is co-authored by COMPASS Director of Science Policy Outreach Chad English.

Scientific conferences are hotspots for researchers to come together to share their latest discoveries, form new collaborations, and glean new insights from one another. But traditional conferences can also be very insular affairs, where researchers geek out with one another and non-experts find it practically impossible to glean much value from the proceedings. For scientific communities that want to see their science used by society, we think the benefits of engaging policymakers are clear.  When done well, the very audiences you most want to share your science with become engaged participants and help shape both the formal talks and informal side-conversations throughout the conference.  So, what does it take to recast conferences as opportunities to integrate external audiences into these discussions? What does it take to engage policymakers effectively? [Read more…]