Here's a quick look at two takeaways from last month's Union of Concerned Scientists' webinar on setting science narratives.
1. STEMedia.org and Nehemiah J. Mabry
Put the work of engineer & STEM communicator Nehemiah Mabry on your radar for inspiration and direction. He launched STEMedia to motivate young people to choose the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). BUT what was even more exciting to me was his passion for using the arts as a key strategy for engaging kids in the work.
An bridge design engineer by training, Mabry argues that scholarship should not change its rigor or approach. Rather, he says, once your study is complete, then it's time to get thinking about how to expand its impact in creative ways.
He recommends you ask yourself, "What art form can I place this in?" Consider outsourcing the execution of your ideas if you don't think you have the creative skills to achieve your vision. Mabry cites "Dance Your PhD" and "Dumb Ways to Die" as two artful ways of expanding your research impact. (At the time I'm writing this, the Dumb Ways to Die video has 144,772,926 views.)
Mabry also believes that aligning scientists with approaches used by other creative thinkers can help break through to skeptical audiences. "If something looks cool, they're going to stop and at least consider it," he said.
2. Three Steps to Structuring an Effective Conversation with a Climate Skeptic
Maybe because my work keeps me in close contact with university profs and scientists, I only recently ran into my first conversation with a climate skeptic. Now I understand why we all need a conversational crib sheet in our back pocket. So grateful to UCS for boiling it down to these three easy-to-remember steps.
1. Listen, genuinely and respectfully.
2. Make three points:
It's happening now.
We have a choice about it.
3. Then be sure to say that 90% of scientists agree on those three points.
Good to have a game plan and to see others embracing the arts & science comms phenomenon.
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