SciComm Trainers Network: Building a community committed to equity in science engagement

Whether it’s watching a demonstration at a science fair, learning new ideas at a science museum, or simply talking to a scientist, the transfer of knowledge from scientists to members of their communities represents a clear example of the free-choice learning championed by the Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI). As such ILI has formed a strategic partnership with the SciComm Trainers Network (SCTN) to support its long-term growth and sustainability.

SCTN is a community of science communication researchers, trainers, and practitioners. Network members range from freelance consultants to leaders of large organizations committed to improving the public’s engagement with science. The group was born out of a series of meetings that began in 2017 with the goal of connecting established and emerging leaders who were passionate about science communication. In 2019, the SciComm Trainers Network was formally established with an aim to cultivate community among participants, professionalize the field of SciComm training, and broaden participation in the network and the field. To accomplish this work, the network embraced four guiding principles.

  1. Inspiring Community. Participants build connections and cultivate trusting, positive relationships that enrich and enliven all participants’ work and support the wellbeing of everyone in the network.
  2. Equitable Inclusion. Participants create an empowering network that seeks out and elevates a wide variety of perspectives, experiences, and identities, especially those that have historically been underrepresented. This includes ensuring equitable access to the opportunities provided by the network.
  3. Respectful Collaboration. Participants advance our common purpose while respecting ownership and livelihoods, including boundaries around proprietary information, intellectual property, and business practices.
  4. Accountability. Participants hold themselves and each other to ways of working that advance the quality and professionalism of the field, particularly through effective and reflective conduct and communication.

Over the past year, the network has been actively working toward these aspirations. With funding from the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative and the Kavli Foundation, the group hosted community conversations to support members as they navigated through the early months of the COVID-19, provided planning and speaker support for the #BlackInSciComm week hosted last October, developed a mechanism to connect members with potential funders to develop ideas that will support the field of SciComm, and hosted a virtual convening to help members stay connected and meet new people in the field.

This year, the Network looks forward to continuing to support the needs of SciComm Trainers everywhere. We are developing ways to more easily bridge research and practice in addition to creating new spaces for members to connect about shared interests on a regular basis. We continue to center justice, equity, and diversity and are committed to leading and supporting efforts that allow these ideals to proliferate in our field.

If you are interested in learning more about the SciComm Trainers Network, please visit our website. If you want to be a part of this growing community, please email Chloe Poston, the SCTN Network Weaver.

Posted Jan 21, 2021