A rubric for science communication courses

In the face of systematic public misinformation campaigns against science,  scientific institutions are fighting back by establishing science communication courses and workshops for scientists.  In addition, science enthusiasts, like Alan Alda, have established non profit organizations to help scientists learn the art of communication with a non-expert audience. Science advocacy organizations such as the American Association for Advancement of Science have established a dedicated resource to help scientists with public outreach and engagement with policy makers.  Many scientists have also gone rogue by taking advantage of blogging, podcasting and social media to learn the ropes of public outreach on their own, and some have been very successful in building a large engaged audience.

Science Communication Courses could use a good rubric

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The world heard scientists on Twitter, but were they understood?

Last week scientists on Twitter answered the call from one of their peers, an Alabama ecologist named David Steen, and introduced themselves to Twitterverse using the hashtag #actuallivingscientist. It was a delightful sight to see for a science enthusiast like me. The hashtag ended up trending, earned it’s own Moment on Twitter, and inspired passionate responses by non-scientist Twitter users. This Twitter campaign also became the subject of many articles, like this and this, helping to expand the reach of this online real-scientist campaign well outside of Twitter.  Later social scientists joined this effort using the hashtag #actualsocialscientist.

Scientists on Twitter must be heard and understood
Cartoon made on ToonDoo

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