AAAS has provided more than 300 Communicating Science workshops for over 9,500 scientists and engineers at academic institutions, government agencies, research organizations and society meetings worldwide as of November 2020.
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"The trainer was terrific. She was able to make the class relevant to our work, using specific work related examples and engaging participants to share examples from their experiences." Jeri Weiss, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 1
"Sometimes the first and hardest step in communicating is to just speak up. In this workshop there were no "wrong questions" and many people chipped in to give feedback to others." Joy Trujillo, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake
"I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. I had never [taken] in to consideration the jargon of my field being a possible barrier to my audience." Tishara Collins, Delaware State University
"This workshop helped re-orient my thinking about communicating in practical ways. I applied the lessons within days of the workshop." Steve Whitney, FDA Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories
We asked workshop participants: “What’s the most valuable idea or skill you took away from the workshop?”
“For me, the main benefit of the course was to think about science communication in a structured way, to be reminded of some things that I may have known but have given insufficient attention to, and to hear the perspectives of other workshop participants.” Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute participant
“Accepting the notion that breaking down complex concepts from my discipline into very simplified explanations for the understanding of the public does not 'dumb down' the work, but in fact gives it greater value, as it can reach more people.” Florida Atlantic University participant
“You really need to understand WHY you're setting a goal not just WHAT you're going to do.” University of Massachusetts, Amherst participant
“I have a new appreciation for the importance of tailoring my message to each specific audience, and meeting people where they already are.” Pennsylvania State University participant
Articles about Our Workshops
- I-MRSEC Workshop Seeks to Help Researchers Improve Their Public Engagement, ILLINOIS I-STEM Education Initiative News, October 23, 2020
- Stanford scientists navigate their religious and academic identities at workshop, The Stanford Daily, March 10, 2019 -- This workshop was given in collaboration with the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics & Religion (DoSER) program
- HOT TOPIC: A Framework for Public Engagement with Science, Euraxess North America Quarterly Newsletter, December 2018
- AAAS Communicating Science Program Gives Its 200th Workshop, AAAS News, June 20, 2018
- The World is Ready for More (and Better) Science Communication, UW-Madison Center for Limnology Blog, March 15, 2018
- AAAS Center for Public Engagement celebrates 10 years of Communicating Science workshops, AAAS News, March 14, 2018
- Do I make myself clear? Media training for scientists, Science, January 25, 2018
- Experts Share Many Ways to Promote Science’s Value, AAAS News, April 21, 2017
- COEIT and CNMS Host AAAS “Communicating Science” Faculty Workshop, UMBC Insights, April 13, 2015
- Workshop equips scientists, engineers to communicate technology, US Army AMRDEC Public Affairs, September 16, 2015
- AAAS Public Communication Workshop Helps Scientists Become "More Vocal, More Visible", AAAS News, February 19, 2010
- Providing Tools for Scientists and Engineers, “Communicating Science” Program Expands its Reach, AAAS News, October 19, 2009
- Often Distant From Policy Making, Scientists Try to Find a Public Voice, The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 28, 2009
- Workshops Build Story-Telling Skills of Scientists, Science, April 25, 2008
The AAAS Communicating Science program works closely with social scientists whose research addresses science communication and public engagement with science to ensure the program uses empirical evidence to inform best practices and workshop content. Researchers and a professional evaluator have also assisted in development of an evaluation program that measures progress toward goals identified by research.
Workshop goals include increasing scientists’ communication skills and confidence in their ability to engage with the public. The Communicating Science program also seeks to increase scientists’ confidence in communication effectiveness of specific methods, including in-person interactions, social media, and news media.
Evaluation results show an increase in workshop participants’ self-reported communication skills and confidence as a result of the workshop. Participants indicate that they can:
- Describe scientific findings in ways that make them relevant to specific people.
- Get people excited about science.
- Frame research implications so they resonate with people's values.
- Hear what others think about scientific issues.
Regarding specific science communication skills, workshop participants report an increased ability to:
- Articulate a goal for communication.
- Identify relevance of message to an audience.
- Identify a few main points/messages to convey.
- Be concise and jargon-free.
Additional benefits of workshops include fostering a community for public engagement within an institution.