science communication, heading your way

As many of you may/may not know, my two wonderful colleagues and I organize an interdisciplinary lecture series on science communication, called the Science Communication Consortium. It followed on the heels of the framing debate, after I invited Chris and Matt to speak at New York Academy of Sciences last year.

My colleagues and I believe that framing is one small component of the larger systemic problem of deteriorating science communication, and began organizing a series of lectures to delve deeply into other critical areas. We hope that this dialogue will flesh out the broader issues of how and why science can be communicated more effectively to the media, policymakers, and politicians; through advocates, educators, and outreach programs.

With all this, we hope to promote science literacy and the public's support for science. And, perhaps research scientists will see some new changes and improvements to their lives, as well.

So...I was inspired to write about this today because I noticed that today's SB buzz hits on tenure track priorities. Science communication efforts certainly aren't incorporated in most/all tenure decisions. But, so long as a academic scientist is publishing scholarly research, shouldn't he/she also be rewarded for participating in public outreach, a little science writing for lay audiences (even a la ScienceBlogging), or public advocacy? It's disheartening to me that this type of work isn't equally recognized and respected in academia - at least not yet. And, as many researchers have pointed out, there certainly aren't enough hours in the day to do it all. My colleagues Liz and Katie and myself are all graduate students splitting our time between our dissertation research, organizing the SCC, and participating in other outreach programming, and we all recognize that our labwork has taken a hit as a result. Perhaps if tenure or promotion considerations expanded their definition of what a scientist can be, science literacy would face a brighter future.

We discuss these issues in a recent interview by the delightful John Timmer at Ars Technica; also, check out the first part of the interview with Liz and Katie.

Our next SCC event will be held this Thursday. If you're in the NYC region, it'd be lovely to see you there. Find out more, below the fold...

The Science Communication Consortium presents:

Science and Congress: The Role of Think Tanks and Congressional Science Committees
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Martin E. Segal Theatre, CUNY - City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

Recent years have seen a rise in prominence of legislative issues that control how scientists work or that require scientific information for decision making. How do legislators receive this information, and what are the potential effects of distortion or misunderstanding of it on science in the United States? Join us for a discussion on how science-related think tanks and congressional science committees are involved in this process.

Joanne Carney, Director of the American Association for the Advancement of Scientists (AAAS) Center for Science, Technology and Congress
David Goldston, former chief of staff for the House Committee on Science and author of Nature's "Party of One" column on Congress and science policy
Michael Stebbins, Director of Biology Policy for the Federation of American Scientists, President of the Scientists and Engineers for America Action Fund, and author of Sex, Drugs & DNA

Wine and cheese reception to follow.

Registration is FREE, but is limited to 70 people. Please RSVP now through NYAS to reserve your spot!

This event is co-sponsored by the Science Communication Consortium, CUNY Doctoral Students' Council, CUNY Graduate Investment Fund, Hunter College President Jennifer Raab, Hunter Biology Graduate Students' Association, CUNY Grad Center Office of Educational Opportunity & Diversity Programs, and the New York Academy of Sciences.


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