Dear Leopold Fellows,
I’d like to share the results of a Leopold 2011 cohort project, which was to put together this special symposium at AAAS 2013 in Boston:
“The Beauty and Benefits of Escaping the Ivory Tower”
There are many unresolved policy problems in society, such as high unemployment and economic competitiveness, oil and gas versus alternative energy, proper stances against nuclear proliferation, public health issues, climate change, and the loss of biodiversity, all of which increasingly revolve around science. And yet, less than two percent of Congress has any professional background in science. America remains inactive about the ramifications of critical societal challenges such as climate change, environmental hazards, and living sustainably. Environmental issues are local no more, and solutions cannot remain provincial. Scientists must become envoys of knowledge that is global: laws of physics, functioning of the atmosphere, and the cadence of waxing and waning of biodiversity. Indeed, science is now part of an unavoidable and contentious public discussion on these issues, and we need it to catalyze solutions. Increasingly, scientists who are communicators are moving into positions of leadership, engaging with society, and changing their academic institutions from within. The speakers, all early- to mid-career scientists and fellows of the Leopold Leadership Program run by Stanford University, will present research and case stories of effective communication of science to policy-makers and the public, including specific lessons learned and suggested paths forward to positively change academic culture. A special focus is on early-career scientists and graduate students.
You can download all the presentation files and related papers from the session (41 Mb zip) + a Google doc + a Twitter Storify created by Jack Williams. The discussions live on via the Twitter hashtag #AAASbeit which we will try to keep going well beyond the meeting.
Thanks to all who made this session possible, including Liz Neeley for her skillful moderation of the discussion and social media strategy.
Two related blog posts that you may enjoy are:
Bridging the Gap between Science and Policy Makers: Whither Geospatial? which sums up some of the many things that I’ve I learned from my Leopold experience and is my attempt to pass it on to my world of geographic information science.
Liz Neeley’s The Beauty and Benefits of a Network