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Professionalization of Outreach: Recommendations for Outreach Practioners

By Jeanne Garbarino , SciOut18 Task Force

The following recommendations apply to those who regularly practice science outreach in some capacity — from those who regularly participate in the science outreach framework as a volunteer, such as graduate students leading a science outreach club, to those who are compensated for their science outreach work, either part or full-time.

1. For practitioners representing established organizations, connect with other departments within your institution to identify areas of synergy.

There are many obvious (and a few not-so-obvious) examples of how science outreach practitioners can collaborate with departments and laboratories within an organization. For example, science outreach teams can work with Human Resources for national “Take Your Child to Work Day” efforts, collaborate with a specific laboratory to create an aligned curriculum, or partner with development offices to creatively entice new or existing philanthropy to support your institution. By creating these internal partnerships, you increase the value that science outreach can have on the professional scientific community, which, in turn, strengthens the argument to support science outreach at the institutional level.

2. When recruiting scientists as volunteers, be clear and transparent about expectations and goals, and communicate the best practices for your audience and context.

In this paper we are promoting the centralization of science outreach efforts within institutions of science. However, science outreach efforts often require the participation of scientist volunteers. To ensure that volunteers are supported, and to promote continued recruitment of volunteers, it is essential to be clear and transparent with the expectations you have for your scientist volunteers. Prior to volunteer recruitment, take the time to clearly define the time requirements (inclusive of preparation and/or travel time), as well as any other expectations you might have.

3. Survey the science outreach landscape in your local community to help identify and connect with others for the purposes of ideas and resource sharing.

Perhaps the most powerful way to scale is to truly outsource science outreach: to put the tools in the hands of others and help them achieve their outreach goals. Open sharing of our tools, methods and ideas will also help to prevent those who are just starting out from reinventing the wheel. Since we have established that the need for science outreach work far exceeds the current resources, we must be generous with our knowledge, connections, and tools in order to reach further and deeper into our communities.

This is an excerpt from the SciOut18 White Paper: Recommendations for the Continued Professionalization of Science Outreach within the Scientific Enterprise which can be downloaded in its entirety in the Save & Share sidebar

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