This semester, UMD faculty members from across campus came together to host a six-week workshop series titled “SCOPE it out: Graduate Workshop on Fundamentals of Scholarly Communication and Public Engagement,” for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The workshops provided in-depth training to graduate students for their professional development.
UMD School of Public Policy Associate Professor Kathleen Vogel and Roy F. Weston Chair Rosina Bierbaum served as two of the faculty members leading the workshop series, along with College of Mathematical and Natural Sciences (CMNS) faculty members Associate Research Professor Melissa Kenney, Professor Karen Lips and Science Writer/Media Coordinator Matthew Wright.
Shreya Patel, who is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration from SPP, says she wanted to attend the workshop series because of her work as a consultant. “I was curious about the challenges of communication between scientists and policymakers.” She adds that she was looking to learn more about networking and how to communicate with scientists about their data.
Throughout the series, students were exposed to a variety of communication and engagement approaches, including presentations, role-playing, writing for specific non-expert audiences and developing a personal SCOPE plan. At the end of the workshop series, students applied what they learned through SCOPE engagements with stakeholders and decision-makers.
Ellen Buckley, a second-year graduate student at CMNS, says she signed up for the workshop because she wanted to work on her networking and communications skills.
“I learned a lot about how to represent myself publicly. I learned how to share my research in a comprehensible way, how to effectively use Twitter and how to make connections that could turn into collaborations," Buckley says. “I think working with the instructors was the most beneficial thing. They all have really good insight on career opportunities and how to switch from really technical researchers to great communicators.”
Students were provided with instruction on how to present research and scholarly activities, how to utilize social media in their efforts; ways to talk with reporters and craft a message; how to work with policymakers and build relationships; ways to increase the impact of their research; and how to engage in productive collaborations.
Mayda Nathan, a PhD student in the entomology program at CMNS, signed up for the workshop because of her interest in using science to inform policy. “One particularly important message that really stuck with me was that scientists have a real obligation to explain their work to the public,” she says. “There's enormous value in getting the public to understand the types and variety of questions that motivate scientists, the manner in which those questions are addressed and the uncertainty that sometimes surrounds an answer. These interactions are also an opportunity to remind scientists of the sorts of questions that really interest the public or policymakers, and the kinds of answers they're looking for.”
This workshop was sponsored by the UMD School of Public Policy, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, UMD Graduate School, Graduate Student Government and American Geophysical Union.