Our Stories: Supporting Wildfire Scientists To Engage


We often blog here with brief updates or reflections on our work, while our website provides examples and descriptions of what we do. We are excited to continue sharing our series of stories, focused on longer timelines and richer details. And remember, if you want to join our team to support scientists in their engagement efforts – we are hiring!
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Want To Work At COMPASS?


Many of us on the COMPASS team get asked “What’s your favorite thing about working at COMPASS?” The initial response is always the same: “Just ONE thing? Yikes, that’s hard.” But when we get down to it, I hear two consistent answers:

The people. Our teammates. The scientists we support. The networks we connect them to, especially journalists and policymakers. We are people people.

The work. Making a difference in the world. Knowing that you helped support scientists to find their ‘so what’ and find their voiceto share both their insights and their passion.  Being part of society’s journey to help people and environment thrive. Figuring out what it really means to be a science communication practitioner. Being part of a small organization with big impact. Innovating. Busting silos. Connecting.
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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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Looking Beyond The Business Card


COMPASS needed to investigate how they might contribute at the boundary of science and business, so naturally they needed someone who knew about synergy – an MBA intern! As a master’s candidate in environmental sciences and business management, I felt well positioned to help COMPASS investigate what they’ve been hearing for awhile now – an unmet need at the intersection of science and business. [Read more…]

Scientists Weigh In: Impostor Syndrome In A Silo-Busting World

Embracing difference (in this case, naiveté in a specialty) may help you see the forest for the trees.  Photo courtesy of torremountain via Flickr.

When Brooke first shared the news that we were going to spend the next 9 to 12 months exploring what an expanded scope for COMPASS might look like, I reacted with a mix of “wow – just think of the possibilities!” and “holy s#$%!”

The terrified part of me was wrestling with impostor syndrome. There’s a palpable buzz about this phenomenon on Twitter and in the blogosphere, among scientists and beyond. In a nutshell, it’s that nagging fear that we don’t know enough (everyone else knows more!), we’re a phony, a fraud … and sooner or later we’ll be found out. You can learn more in Josh Drew’s recent lecture for graduate students at Columbia University. [Read more…]

Beyond The Sea, Busting Silos For The Future

It's all connected.  Where the ocean meets the land.
Photo courtesy of Gord McKenna via Flickr.

Pop quiz – pick one and only one answer:

Hurricane Sandy is related to: a) weather, b) climate, c) oceans, d) public safety

Ocean acidification is an issue related to: a) oceans, b) carbon, c) agriculture, d) food security

Marine debris is an issue related to: a) oceans, b) consumption, c) population, d) health

Marine aquaculture is an issue related to: a) oceans, b) food security, c) agriculture, d) social equity [Read more…]

Living In The New Normal

Nancy Baron (second from right) with moderator Frank Sesno (second from left) and fellow panelists Drew Westen and Randy Olsen (l-r) share insights on how thoughtful communications and leadership can be used to enact change in a changing world. Photo by Daniel Bayer of the Aspen Environment Institute via @AIEnvironment on Twitter.

The author with moderator Hari Sreenivasan and fellow panelists Frank Sesno and Randy Olsen (from left to right) share insights on how communications and leadership can be used to enact change in a changing world. Photo by Daniel Bayer of the Aspen Institute via Twitter.

How do you get people to change the world? The world is changing already, with and without our help… climate change, population, consumption, and extinction are all on the rise. But… imagine if every academic environmental scientist could communicate why their science matters – to the public, policy makers, journalists, and their own communities – now that would change the world!

I posed that thought to over 200 environmental experts – academics, journalists, pundits, activists, decision makers, futurists, and citizens – gathered in our plenary at the 2012 Aspen Environmental Forum entitled, “How to Get People to Change the World.” With all this change, what we were really there to discuss was: What does it mean to be living in “the new normal?” Thought-leaders pointed out the many problems and challenges we’re facing, but they also kept the mood upbeat with the inclusion of bright spots, solutions and constructive discussion about how to chart the course ahead. And, in my plenary in particular, how communications and leadership are critical to shaping it.

My topic was “Communicate Like a Leader” and the link between communications and leadership. Communications is central to the enterprise of “would-be” change agents – whether breaching the boundaries of disciplines or expertise, or amassing votes, or mobilizing action. Good communicators can articulate a vision, focus a debate, and cut to the essence of their argument. They can make their points compelling – even to those who disagree. And they can make people sit up, take notice, and care. They know how to reach their audience by making it personal, addressing the “so what?” and speaking from the heart. We experienced this first hand with the brilliant roster of speakers. [Read more…]