During Session 6, Building Sustainable Infrastructures for Life Science Communication, workshop participants were asked to submit their top three ideas in answering the following question:
If you had unlimited resources to invest in life science communication and engagement activities, what three things would you invest in?
The following is a list of the submitted ideas:
1. Fund radio content (e.g., Science Friday, Radio Lab) on steroids.
2. With truly unlimited resources, develop a television show, movie, etc. with life sciences content embedded. Think of what CSI has done for forensics.
3. Make/enable science to go viral.
a. social media groups and sites
b. engagement of university students
4. Call on organizations throughout society to not prohibit staff members from speaking to reporters without public affairs surveillance.
5. Create life science communication centers not affiliated with individual institutions to communicate science results using a “working group” model like NCEAS.
6. More boundary organizations that help ferry scientists to relevant audiences.
7. Build infrastructure that connects researchers to various audiences (e.g., media, general public, schools).
8. More/stronger boundary organizations (like COMPASS).
9. Develop an “extension agent” model for serving media (new and old).
10. Establish local citizen dialogues in every community on critical issues in the life sciences (including nutrition, health, etc.).
11. Match.com for scientists interested in communications/engagements and audiences (and maybe practitioners to support them).
12. More/better citizen science activities in “gateway” areas—natural history, astronomy, gardening, climate monitoring/weather.
13. Invest in developing a framework for monitoring and evaluation to assess impact of science communication.
14. Provide opportunities for science communicators in different fields (i.e., journalism, museums, etc.) to exchange ideas and form collaborations.
15. Research/evaluation (evidence) to better define best practices and translation of that research for practitioners.
16. Invest in capacity to help scientists “know their audience” and how to interact with them (effective implementation of broader impacts).
17. Establish a National Academy for Science Communication with a mission broader than life sciences.
18. Create methodology and publishing mechanism for practitioners of science communication.
19. Develop comprehensive set of science communication goals and metrics.
20. Research studies on the efficacy of different science communication approaches.
21. Formative research on audience wants/needs for life science communication—demand side.
22. A rebranding initiative for science.
23. Fund all journalism schools to include science in their curricula.
24. Train/teach journalists (all, not only science journalists) about the scientific process and not “equal” time to all.
25. Better fund science journalist at news outlets.
26. Grants and funding system to support independent popular journalism about science. (Biggest threat to communicating science to public is the decline in ad dollars and traditional money available to support good, independent science journalism.)
27. Help scientists learn and use science of science communication.
28. Develop and implement communication curriculum for graduate and undergraduate science education so it becomes second-nature skill set for scientists.
29. Core training in plain language for all scientists.
30. Embed science communication training into all graduate programs and professional society activities.
31. Create a Science Corps, like Peace Corps, for United States and beyond—scientists who fan out to our schools in the United States and beyond to teach science and try to counter the antiscience out there.
32. Increase research budgets so that science communication efforts are funded alongside research grants.
33. Communications training for life science graduate students—as a core (like statistics).
34. Training in science communication is an integral part of all graduate programs.
35. Investment in graduate student training in science communication.
36. Develop a graduate student certificate program for life sciences students in communication, similar to preparation of future faculty programs.
37. Instill in scientists the importance of communication and to better respect the audience of nonscientists (the public).
38. Teach scientists the need for communicating their work and train some (not all!!!) how to be “experts” or “spokespersons.”
39. Emphasis (courses) on communicating science for those studying science in undergraduate and graduate education.
40. Training workshops and activities.
41. Training for scientists to speak to the “nonscience” public.
42. Syllabus development and course requirements to improve graduate students’ ability to communicate with those outside their disciplines.
43. Science museums and zoos—access outreach, update exhibits, increase use of social media.
44. Core communication competency as requisite scientific training.
45. Reform the tenure reward system to place equal value on engagement in communications, policy, civic engagement.
46. Fund mass media venues and have permanent pay positions for scientists.
47. Change reward structure for scientists so there are more extrinsic rewards for communicating and improving their communication to the public.
48. Require researchers to engage in meaningful communications activities—and hold them accountable through incorporating into peer review.
49. Include science communication outreach requirements in all grant funding activities—federal and private.
50. Communication prizes (cash!) at societies to start incentivizing science communication.
51. Appropriate specific communication sections/offices with grant making for (life) science communication in every major federal agency.
52. Improve K-12 science teaching and resources, and teach about scientific process.
53. A practicing scientist in every science classroom.
54. K-12 STEM education
a. tools that showcase what science can and has created
b. teacher training and engagement
55. Generate public interest in science by providing resources to schools, museums, community centers, etc., to do science through equipment and expertise.
56. Fund more DIY bio labs.
57. Contrarian fund: fund people (qualified) with different approaches and points of view from the prevailing view and avenues for them to be able to communicate those ideas.
58. Better integration of the infrastructure of science communication, for example, connect university public information officers and scientific societies.
59. Learn more about industry and nongovernmental organization activity in science communication—goals, investments, approaches, etc.
60. Buy time from the best communicators from nonscience fields (entertainment, Fortune 500 companies, media) to evaluate and advise science enterprise. Then hire some of them!