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Science Communication Trainers Network 2021 Convening Coverage: Part 2

SciCommBites attended the 2021 Science Communication Trainers Network convening in December. Here's part two of our summary of the sessions that happened at the convening, focused primarily on Network-specific topics.

SCTN Year in Review

The Science Communication Trainers Network is a relatively new and young organization intended to “...cultivate a community of individuals and organizations who are committed to advancing science communication training that builds scientists’ capacity to engage diverse audiences and strengthen relationships across society.” Network members are anyone or any organization who trains or aspires to train scientists in communication and engagement skills, studies science communication training, or funds science communication training. If that’s you, consider joining the Network!

The 2021 Science Communication Trainers Network (SCTN) Convening kicked off with a recap of the past year of the Network’s activities, delivered by the Network’s Weaver, Dr. Chloe Poston. Network members have been quite busy, and some accomplishments from the past year include:

  • Hosted three journal club discussions about science communication research articles. If you’d like to get involved with the journal club, send a message to Chloe Poston.

  • Shared best practices for inclusive science communication, and featured a talk by Dr. Mónica Feliú-Mójer

  • Partnered to create SciCommBites! We are a new research summary blog site with the goal of digesting the latest peer-reviewed research in science communication and public engagement.

In addition, the Network shared some infrastructure highlights:

  • The Network conducted an extensive survey of current membership, and that feedback heavily influenced the Strategic Plan that was released late last year and that will provide direction for activities going forward.

  • The Network successfully secured two years of funding for operations!

Finally, the Network is continuing to pursue and build meaningful collaborations with groups building inclusive science communication training and practice initiatives, including:

  • Partnering with Project SCARF, a new inclusive science communication training fellowship program from the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University and the Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island. You can read more about this program in our second convening coverage post here (INSERT LINK).

  • Creating a grant proposal to the U.S. National Science Foundation in partnership with Califia and PBS to "develop a pilot-tested framework and toolkit for community-level science communication collaborations that contribute to local resilience in the face of STEM-related crises."

Get Involved With a Project Team

Stephanie Deppe, edited by Jacqueline Goldstein

In this session, we heard from two groups who have received support and benefit from partnership with the SCTN: yours truly (SciCommBites), and the Community Convenings Project.


Founders Dr. Stephanie Deppe and Dr. Jacqueline Goldstein recapped the first few months of SciCommBites. We’re thrilled that in the first two months of our existence (as of mid-December 2021) we published four articles (including one video) from four different authors, received >1460 site views and >1600 unique site visitors, and gathered >550 social media followers and >120 blog subscribers! We’re additionally thrilled to have accepted nine new authors as part of our authorship call for applications last fall -- and we've officially started publishing posts written by our new authors!

Presentation slide with text "How it's going. We officially launched on October 13, 2021. Since then: 4 articles (including a video!), 4 authors, >1460 post views, >1600 unique site visitors, >550 social media followers, >120 subscribers."
Figure 1. SciCommBites had a successful first couple of months, from October-December 2021!

We concluded our part of the session by asking for community feedback to assess how well we’re meeting the needs of science communication trainers, practitioners, and researchers. If you have any feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Community Convenings Project

We next heard from Jessica Rohde, who leads the Community Convenings project within the SCTN focusing on organizing events and opportunities for Network members to connect with each other.

  • The journal clubs organized through the SCTN Slack have been popular and have mainly focused on evaluations of science communication training programs.

  • Two members of the SCTN, Meital Salmor and Jessica Rohde, will lead a session at the upcoming AAAS meeting to discuss how the landscape of science communication varies between countries. If you attend this session and are interested in writing a post about it for us, please get in touch!

  • There is an open request for collaboration on upcoming Network events. The goal of the Community Convenings project is to ensure the gatherings and events organized by the Network are as inclusive as possible, which means getting diverse input as early in the process as possible! If you are interested in collaborating on events within the Network (including journal clubs, a “Bridging Research and Practice” event, or other ideas) fill out this form!

Looking Forward: An Ask Me Anything with the SCTN Board

Stephanie Deppe, edited by Jacqueline Goldstein

This session began with a review of the Network’s recently-released Strategic Plan, developed by the Board after collecting feedback from Network members.

The finalized plan contains the following key goals and objectives for the Network:

  • Goal 1: Optimize Network infrastructure to support an active and justice-oriented community of practice for science communication trainers

  • Goal 2: Incubate ideas and initiatives to drive innovation in science communication training

The Network plans to remain accountable to this strategic plan by assessing targeted metrics that accompany each goal, assessing progress annually, and conducting annual surveys and reports to assess impact that will allow the Network to move from an emerging entity to a key player in the field of science communication.

The session concluded with an “Ask Me Anything” style of Q&A session with SCTN Board members Marissa Weiss, John Meyer, Suzanna Ffolkes, Chloe Poston, and Karlisa Callwood. Questions and answers have been paraphrased and edited for clarity and brevity.

  • Q: Given that some conversation has been around accessibility, has there been discussion around keeping the convening virtual in perpetuity?

    • John: There’s a conversation to be had still to figure that out. There have been huge benefits from COVID-19 forcing everything online, so we will advocate for it in some way and somehow because it does let us be more inclusive.

    • Chloe: There is opportunity to do a bit of both. Perhaps small meetups, or hold conversations or events adjacent to other larger meetings in order to lower costs?

  • Q: Regarding membership databases - could this generate revenue, and could we advertise benefits of becoming a member as belonging to a database of scicomm trainers?

    • Chloe: A directory is in the works. But there are some things to consider, especially making sure it doesn’t become a competitive space. We want to make sure there’s enough content/interaction/engagement for members before saying “you’re in vs you’re out.” We want to make sure the value is there so we can say exactly what a member gets from joining.

  • Q: What does visibility of the Network look like? How do you bring new people in who aren’t already connected to people in the Network? There currently is no language on the website about “join us.”

    • Chloe: some of this information is in the Network Charter, but we appreciate that many weren’t part of the original conversations when the Network was first forming.

    • Karlisa: Kiki Sanford pointed out that there are some delineations to be made between different types of trainers.

  • Q: I’m new to the network and am excited to see language about “aspiring scicomm trainers.” Are these resources already available?

    • John: there’s a wide range of things we offer as a network, like webinars, but there’s also the power of connection within the network

    • Suzanne: it would be great to hear from you as a new person in terms of resources, partnerships, etc

    • Marissa: There’s the power of connections to groups as well as individuals. We could be promoting projects and initiatives happening within the network.

    • Karlisa: We have heard the call and need for a repository space for resources. We are also shifting focus to connecting research to practice, which will probably lead to collection of resources.

  • Q: What is the best way to reach out across the network? Is SCTN on LinkedIn?

    • Chloe: not on LinkedIn but happy to make it happen. Our slack and email list are currently the best ways.

  • Q: Is there a possibility of establishing a certification program to distinguish the SCTN from a general slack group?

    • Chloe: We are looking for volunteers to help put these kinds of things in place. It’s easy to compare us to a professional society, but professional societies have more resources than we do.

  • Q: Are there any expectations for how different members can contribute? I don’t want to take over conversations but I also don’t just want to observe.

    • John: We view everyone as equal contributors. We welcome everyone to contribute and want to look for opportunities to elevate and support people who aren’t at larger institutions

    • Suzanne: There was a time where we had different task forces where people could lead different projects. We see opportunities for individuals to focus on these areas (if you’re on the SCTN slack team, you can see these as slack channel topics). We could look at forming other task forces with new members who could lead different projects.

    • Chloe: This is reflected in the strategic plan. One thing we want to do is work collaboratively with other groups in this space so we don’t duplicate efforts. We want people in the network to be aware of the work that’s happening.

If you’re interested in getting notice about and attending next year’s convening, make sure you join the SCTN’s email list by navigating to and clicking on “Mailing List.”


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