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Scientific community/Science communication

Michael Littman, professor of computer science at Brown University, has always enjoyed making videos that bring levity -- and sometimes lyrics -- to serious topics like the application and implications of artificial intelligence (AI). This past year, as a fellow of the AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science, he has focused on strategically targeting his videos toward specific audiences

After years working on artificial intelligence (AI) at IBM and elsewhere, new Tulane University assistant professor Nicholas Mattei has focused much of his efforts during his AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellowship on introducing his data science students to community-engaged scholarship. Undergraduate students at Tulane are required to take a service-learning course, yet there aren’t many options for students in computer science to fulfill this requirement within their field. In his course, Mattei hoped to help his students learn about what the local New Orleans community is interested in, and what data they might analyze in ways that could contribute to future community action. This builds toward the goal of helping future AI researchers engage with the public in mutually beneficial ways, so scientists understand what the public wants from technology, and the public has a realistic understanding of technology’s limits and its possibilities.

In a new video series, scientists share how they combat misinformation and offer strategies for productively addressing and correcting inaccuracies.

The Engaging the Public with Social Media module guides scientists and engineers through reflection on the state of the evolving social media landscape and their roles in it. Appropriate for both novices and those who are already using social media, participants evaluate their online presence and think critically about how they can use social media to accomplish their public engagement goals. This module combines instruction, guided discussion and individual and group activities and culminates with participants developing comprehensive social media public engagement plans.

The introductory-level, Science Communication and Public Engagement Fundamentals module introduces scientists and engineers to the latest science communication research and basic best practices for engaging with the public. Participants use the AAAS Framework for Public Engagement to develop individual plans that include a public engagement goal and address ways to engage a relevant audience with tailored messages. Participants also brainstorm an engagement scenario and identify next steps to put their plans into action. This workshop is designed for scientists and engineers who don’t have much experience with public engagement, although experienced engagers may also find it useful.

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