Training and Networking: Leshner Leadership Institute

Ben Preston participates in media training during the 2016 Leshner Leadership Institute training week. | AAAS

Public Engagement Fellows will convene at AAAS headquarters in June for a week-long, issue-specific communication and public engagement leadership training for climate scientists. During the week, Fellows will learn from experts and each other. The Fellows will continue their growth as leaders throughout the rest of the year via regular virtual meetings and support from staff, experts in the field of public engagement, and their cohort.

The training week will contain a variety of instructional modules (see Communicating Science workshops), panel discussions with leaders in relevant fields, networking opportunities, and observation of public engagement in action. Small groups will be formed to differentiate the content and accommodate past experience, expertise, and interest. Content will be tailored to the needs and goals of Fellows, and is likely to include:

  • Communication basics (including goals, audience, message, strategy, and delivery mechanisms)
  • Social and online media
  • Video production
  • Media/interviews
  • Policy engagement
  • Writing for non-technical audiences
  • Face-to-face programs and interactions
  • Listening and learning: practicing engagement in two directions
  • Graphics, visuals, infographics, and more: where to find good ones, how to access tools to make them, what to avoid
  • Evaluating public engagement

Training will be conducted by AAAS staff, incorporating expertise from across the organization, and individuals from other societies, communication organizations, non-profits, and universities. Fellows will discuss best practices and examine case studies, considering application to their own specific areas of research and engagement goals.

Planning time will be built into each day to allow Fellows to develop a year-long plan for public engagement. Each Fellow will draft a public engagement plan for the year that builds on the skills and connections developed during the training, in a way that focuses on their own discipline, community, and home institution, as well as other key audiences. The medium of engagement (e.g. social media, news media, policy engagement, talks with community groups, science cafés, science festivals, etc.) will vary, but each Fellow’s plan will express clear goals for public engagement, appropriate audiences, and specific strategies. Fellows will be encouraged (and provided assistance) to identify the local resources, individuals, and organizations that will support implementation of their plans.