Thursday, October 31, 2013

Listening via social media - prioritizing conversations

I recently wrote about the listening (versus talking) side of science communication. For me, listening is practice, one that I am always working to deepen.

Social media presents a particular challenge in terms of listening. On one hand, it can be a great space to listen in to lots of different conversations, and many people interact with it in that way. I personally find it to be a great struggle.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Storytelling: the stories we don't tell

I am slightly wary of the storytelling wave that has taken over these days. I worry about appropriation - the question of whose stories we tell and whether they are ours to tell looms large for me and oddly doesn't pop up that often in the workshops I've been in on the topic unless somebody asks. But, one thing I'd not given a lot of thought to was the stories that we don't tell - particularly the ones that we do or don't tell about ourselves.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The power of intuition in science communication

In the science communication research world over the past year or so, there seems to be an assumption that working from an intuitive place = bad and that working from a data-driven, research-based place = good.** It is in many ways difficult for me to actually hear research results when they are framed that way, even though I do appreciate the place I think it's coming from, which is that there is a lot to be gained by understanding social science research in science communications. But, I'd also like to think there is a role for intuition *and* for data - I mean, why we gotta be so old-school dualistic?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Research and relevance: Informational interviews with decision-makers

After I wrote a post on listening in an interview or evaluation context, I came across a set of posts on the Leopold Leadership 3.0 blog on informational interviews with policy experts and decision-makers as a way to build relationships and gain a better understanding of their needs:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Emergence: listening from an evaluators perspective

I recently attended the annual meeting of the American Evaluation Association and wrote about my experience earlier this week. One thing I wanted to explore more fully was the workshop on listening skills that I participated in as a pre-conference event. Although focused on listening in an interview and evaluation context, the materials and exercises were broadly applicable for anybody with a strong interest in strengthening their listening abilities. Given my interests in the listening side of science communication, it was right up my alley.

Awesome people that will inspire you: Part 2

Earlier this week I posted about some people that inspire me, which I'd like to do regularly.

Joseph Campbell was a pretty incredible guy whose motto was "follow your bliss" - something I think most of us can get behind. I can watch endless hours of him just sitting on a stool talking. He brings the work of Carl Jung and "Man and His Symbols" to life. Anybody interested in storytelling will find much of interest in his discussion of classic stories like the "hero's journey" and classic archetypes. You can watch clips of him on YouTube and streaming on Netflix - for starters I would recommend "The Power of Myth," a several part interview with Bill Moyers on PBS.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

On listening in science communication

It is heartening to see more discussion of the listening side of science communication world of late. I first wrote about the topic in a 2012 article on moving toward relationship-building and engagement in science communication. A discussion with a beloved and wise person in my life spurred me to better define what I meant by listening. The result was that in the article I said:

Awesome people that will inspire you

I think I'm going to try to do this as a regular post category. Over the years I have been inspired by so many different people and I want to pay tribute to them all in some way over time - most are close colleagues, friends, and family. But, I also have some well-known people that continue to inspire me and I have to start somewhere, so I just want to give thanks to Joanna Macy. She has written many great books and done tons of workshops over the years, and I've been inspired by all of her work. This piece, "Allegiance to Life," is an interview with Macy, and is a great summary of her view on the world and conveys an incredible wisdom. It is unfortunately behind a paywall, but *so* worth reading.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Exposing the underbelly - the hidden curriculum in the natural sciences

One thing that I find prevalent in the legal and medical literature is reference to a "hidden curriculum" in higher education. The concept originated in the 1970's and refers to the idea that as part of training, we are all subject to social and academic norms that might be quite different from the content of what we are being taught, which can be problematic on many levels.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Careers outside academia: After the science policy fellowship

I have been involved in discussions of non-academic careers (yes, it's problematic wording - substitute "diverse" or your favorite term of art as you wish) for longer than I'd like to admit. As a graduate student 10-15 years ago, I started a student section of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), my primary professional society. As a student, I also organized a career workshop for several years at the annual meeting, and the tradition continued beyond my tenure with the section (which is super awesomely active these days). Increasingly, I find myself on the same kinds of panels I once organized - including one at ESA this summer.

All about science outcomes - thoughts from the evaluation world

I had the opportunity this year to attend the 2013 annual meeting of the American Evaluation Association. For me it was a good insight into a different professional world. I’ve been exposed to evaluation concepts and done some metric level work, especially with the web and social media, and strategic goal setting and what-not, but nothing too rigorous. Increasingly though, evaluating programs and projects is part of my professional world and seems to be a good trifecta of skill when combined with science communication and project development. So, some intellectual grounding in the topic seemed useful.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Toward a more expansive view of being a scientist

So, I tried to write an editorial for a science journal this summer, and a few things about the experience were very interesting. First and foremost was the back and forth with the editor about whether or not what I had written about was actually "science". For me, this gets to the heart of the matter what it means to be a scientist and what is considered science (not to mention how hard it is to publish as a practitioner). I deeply believe that we need be more expansive in how we think about both.

Why I'm trying this blogging thing again

I am a scientist-practitioner specializing in issues related to the environment (a description of my actual work is here). There has to be a better way to describe my professional identity, but my inability to do so is, in my mind, reflective of the state of the field.