Synergistic Public Engagement by Scientists: The STEM Ambassador Program

Thursday, 12 February 2015: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Room 210ABEF (San Jose Convention Center)
Nalini M. Nadkarni, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Science and society increasingly need innovative ways to interact synergistically with

each other. Scientists themselves can bring significant assets to engage publics, but

have lacked permission, skills, and rewards to do so. I have developed the STEM

Ambassador Program, which provides academically appropriate incentives and

teachable strategies to creatively and sustainably link researchers and community

groups, focusing on publics who are “inattentive” or even hostile to science, or who lack

physical access to informal science education institutions. It guides science researchers

to engage these audiences with the excitement and knowledge of STEM, and to help

them identify with the scientific enterprise. I describe the process of distilling scientific

messages, identifying and developing empathy with appropriate public audiences,

delivering events in the venues of those public audiences, and assessing impacts on the

publics and the scientists. I draw on examples of engagement projects with urban youth,

artists, policy-makers, and the incarcerated.