We recently completed an external evaluation of the first five years of the AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute. The evaluation focuses on sustained outcomes from the fellows' experience both for them as individuals and towards organizational change to support public engagement; the value of the program from the fellows' perspectives (as researchers, in public engagement, and as leaders); what aspects of the program are most important; and what changes fellows perceive in public responses to their engagement, post-fellowship.
Key insights from our evaluation include:
- Participating in the Leshner Leadership Institute has successfully impacted Fellows in ways that extend beyond the Fellowship year, achieving lasting impact on their careers.
- Participating in the Leshner Leadership Institute leads Fellows to do more PE work, try new forms, find their “niche,” and integrate public engagement with their research.
- Fellows have demonstrated many ways of being a leader who advocates for PE and experiences career advancement.
- There may be opportunities to help more researchers think about how public engagement can play a role in informing their research directions.
- The themes from this evaluation could offer a concrete “idea bank” to help new Fellows envision what public engagement leadership can look like.
- The network created within the cohorts of Fellows is at the root of much of the impact and value that is experienced.