AAAS’ Local Science Engagement Network offers a new way for scientists and engineers in six regions to connect with their communities and bring science-based solutions to decision-makers.
LSEN has launched its first networks in the following locations:
- Western North Carolina
- Research Triangle, North Carolina
- Puerto Rico
- West Virginia
LSEN is now recruiting current and future scientists and engineers who wish to serve as Advocates for science to join the new networks.
“LSEN is a multidisciplinary civic and policy engagement program that fosters, equips and activates networks of scientists to make a direct impact in their communities by bridging the gap between science and local decision-making,” said Dan Barry, associate director of LSEN. “LSEN Advocates will gain access to training, leadership opportunities and a network of professionals while helping to build trust in and visibility of science where it's needed most.”
The new networks will be assembled and led by the inaugural class of six LSEN Liaisons, first announced in July. These scientists, science outreach professionals and science policy specialists are being trained by AAAS in science communication, network leadership and civic engagement. Now, Liaisons are equipped to mobilize networks of advocates in engaging with community leaders, carrying out grassroots advocacy and helping to solve complex, real-world problems with science.
“Throughout my career I've relied on understanding how science works and what it can tell us. As I began to focus on public science engagement, this level of understanding seemed like the exception and not the norm, especially concerning policy decisions that impact our lives,” said Kate Dickerson, the Liaison for the Maine network. “AAAS' LSEN program was exactly what I was looking for to help address the lack of effective communication between the people doing the science and the people making decisions.”
As members of local, state, and regional networks, LSEN Advocates will work with fellow scientists and engineers to elevate the visibility of science as a tool for solving problems in their communities or preventing them before they arise. Whether it is working with local farmers to adapt to changing ecosystems and weather conditions, bringing science into K-12 classrooms, designing community pollinator gardens, adding data analysis to local climate mitigation and resilience plans, or assisting local elected leaders and their staff in understanding complex science and policy topics, there are virtually limitless ways for scientists to lead important discussions in their communities.
“LSEN provides a unique opportunity to foster engagement between science and society about issues that impact local communities. For global-scale issues like climate change and sustainability, the local connection is critical to making science engagement matter,” said Douglas Rao, the Liaison for the Western North Carolina network.
In signing up for one of the newly established networks, Advocates will have access to specialized training and resources, leadership opportunities and communities of professionals who are passionate about building trust in science and fostering stronger civic engagement.
LSEN’s newest efforts build upon the 2019 pilot program to bring scientific knowledge to address local and state challenges by building and mobilizing communities of scientists and engineers. Launching the first networks and bringing LSEN Advocates on board will help advance AAAS’ strategic pillar of building trust among scientists and their communities, said Barry.
“Our world gets more complex every day. We face more challenges, but we also have more opportunities to make our lives and our communities safer and more prosperous. What is unique about LSEN is that it will bring science into rooms where decisions are being made, by civic and community leaders and by policymakers,” Barry said. “People need science, and AAAS needs you. LSEN Advocates can step up as leaders and be the voice of science in their own communities.”
AAAS membership is not required to become an LSEN Advocate. All that is required of Advocates is that they work in a STEMM field or are pursuing a STEMM degree, have an interest in connecting and fostering positive relationships with others and have a personal commitment to making communities better. Visit AAAS.org/LSENCommunity to get more information about how to register and get involved.
Anyone outside the bounds of the newly launched LSEN networks can still sign up to get access to tools, tips and training on the LSEN Community Forum or stay up to date on future local networks as they launch.