Engaging the public in science

We should be drawing on science and hard data as we decide what to do about climate change. But these decisions aren’t just for the science community to make. The public needs to understand the science and to be part of that conversation.

Now more than ever, scientists need to be approachable. Those of us making the discoveries must work together with the people making the decisions, as well as the people impacted most by those decisions.

One highlight of my career was participating as a 2011 fellow in the Leopold Leadership Program. I’m excited to be part of a global network of scientists who are dedicated to improving science communication and engagement.

In the meantime, I’ve learned a number of dos and don’ts about engaging with the public. Some of the tips I’ve learned most recently come from the Leshner Institute for Public Engagement at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), where I was a fellow in 2016-2017. I recommend their resources and experts. I also recommend tools, resources, and trainings from COMPASS, a NGO focused on preparing scientists to have impact.

We also develop and foster environmental communicators in the institute I direct, through our Environmental Media Lab and our online magazine, Ensia. We also work with early-career researchers through our Associates Program to develop innovations and capabilities for engagement among some of the brightest scholars at the University of Minnesota.

Here are some op-eds I have written and other musings on public engagement in science:

And some recent opinions about environment and society I have written for public consumption:

For more discussion about science, society and environment, follow me on Twitter at @jessicahellmann and Facebook.