The AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology manages the AAAS Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science. Each year, AAAS Leshner Fellows are selected from disciplines at the nexus of an important science-society issue. They convene for a week of intensive public engagement and science communication training and public engagement plan development. In addition to their individual plan, they are encouraged to consider collaborative projects with one or more other fellows to pursue over the course of the year. AAAS Leshner Fellows return to their institutions with a renewed commitment to develop and implement public engagement activities, train and mentor other scientists in their communities, and promote public engagement within their institutions.
AAAS Leshner Fellows continue their development as leaders throughout the year via regular virtual meetings and support from staff, experts in the field of public engagement and their cohort. Throughout the year, Fellows provide progress updates about their activities and work with AAAS staff to document and share their efforts in a variety of ways (such as developing short case studies and writing a blog post). AAAS actively promotes the Fellows’ successes through its website, social media and other online platforms such as Trellis Communities by AAAS. AAAS also provides either a workshop at each Fellow’s institution or seed money for a public engagement-related project.
AAAS Leshner Fellows focus their activities in two areas during the Fellowship year: public engagement and institutional change. Public engagement with science describes intentional, meaningful interactions that provide opportunities for mutual learning between scientists and members of the public. Institutional change focuses on building understanding about, capacity for and support of public engagement within the various institutions researchers are affiliated with, including universities, government agencies, professional societies and private industry.
The Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science recently launched the 2020-21 Artificial Intelligence Cohort. Over the past five years, Leshner Fellows have collectively engaged tens of thousands of people through their engagement activities. The fellows have also built public engagement capacity within their scientific institutions, disciplines, networks, and communities, including through sharing what they have learned in their work as AAAS Leshner Fellows with hundreds of their students and colleagues. Beginning this year and through spring 2022, AAAS will be synthesizing the work of the last five years, including developing and disseminating lessons learned from the program, and resources on the challenges and opportunities for public engagement arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to address structural racism in science.
As a result, AAAS is not soliciting applications for a 2021-22 cohort. If you are interested in updates about this work, the future of the AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute, and announcements about applications for new cohorts of AAAS Leshner Fellows, add your name to our mailing list. If you're interested in contributing to the program, you may do so here.
Fellows & Cohort Topics
2020 - 2021: Artificial Intelligence
The topic for the fifth cohort of AAAS Leshner Fellows is artificial intelligence. Learn more about the 2020-2021 class of fellows.
2019 - 2020: Human Augmentation
The topic for the fourth cohort of AAAS Leshner Fellows is human augmentation. Learn more about the 2019-2020 class of fellows.
2018 - 2019: Food and Water Security
The third cohort of AAAS Leshner Fellows are researchers in the field of food and water security. Learn more about the 2018-2019 class of fellows.
2017-2018: Infectious Disease
Infectious disease is the topic for the 2017 cohort of AAAS Leshner Fellows. Learn more about the 2017-2018 class of fellows.
2016-2017: Climate Change
Climate change is the topic for the 2016 cohort of AAAS Leshner Fellows and builds on the Center's work in developing and disseminating What We Know, a climate communication project. Learn more about the 2016-2017 class of Fellows.
AAAS staff and the Leshner Leadership Institute advisory committee select the areas of science for the cohorts, particularly those with a strong science-society component and sufficient scholarship in relevant communication research. Fellows are working in areas of science that intersect with the science-society topic.
Training and Networking Program
AAAS Leshner Fellows convene at AAAS headquarters in June of their fellowship year for 5 days of communication and public engagement leadership training and networking. Fellows continue their development 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.
Applications typically open in August for each cohort. Visit the Applications Procedures page for eligibility, required materials and FAQs information. However, AAAS is not soliciting applications for a 2021-22 cohort. If you are interested in updates about this work, the future of the AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute, and announcements about applications for new cohorts of AAAS Leshner Fellows, add your name to our mailing list.
Advisory Committee for the Leshner Leadership Institute at AAAS
A committee of experts from the natural and physical sciences, the social sciences, and the practice of public engagement advises the Institute:
- Dominique Brossard, Professor and Chair, Department of Life Sciences Communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison
- Jayatri Das, Chief Bioscientist, The Franklin Institute
- Philip W. Hammer, Senior Director, Member Society Business Development, American Institute of Physics
- Alan I. Leshner, Chief Executive Officer Emeritus, AAAS
- Maja Mataric, Vice Dean for Research, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California
- Benjamin Preston, Director, Infrastructure Resilience and Environmental Policy Program, RAND Corporation
- Phillip Sharp, Institute Professor of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Leshner Leadership Institute has been established wholly by philanthropic support. Gifts ranging from $20 to $100,000 have combined to exceed $500,000 and fund the Institute for its first five years. AAAS is currently working to raise funds for the next five years. If you are interested in contributing, please make a gift online or contact the Development Office by email.
These gifts celebrate and advance CEO Emeritus Alan I. Leshner's vision to sharpen scientists' public engagement skills while working to encourage the civic dialogue needed to address the science-society issues we face today.
AAAS thanks the generous individuals and organizations who have contributed funding to the Leshner Leadership Institute.