Training Early Career Great Lakes Scientists for Effective Engagement and Impact
Author: Jennifer Hunnell, Heather Triezenberg, and Diane Doberneck,Issue #170
Freshwater systems worldwide are increasingly facing complex environmental issues. In the Laurentian Great Lakes region, harmful algal blooms are one example spanning agriculture, municipal drinking water, science and monitoring, water quality, and human health. Addressing these challenges and working across stakeholder interests requires sound science and additional skills that are not necessarily taught to graduate students in the apprentice research model. Effective stakeholder engagement and science communication are two areas consistent with emphases on broader impacts from the National Science Foundation, information and dissemination of the National Institutes of Health, and community engagement of the National Institutes of Health’s Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The lack of training in these areas creates a gap for outreach, engagement, and science communication training to help enable researchers to translate important science to influential stakeholders, policy makers, and members of the public. To address this gap, we held a Community-Engaged Scholarship Workshop for graduate students and early career faculty. The workshop used an established community-engagement framework and was tailored to address the complex environmental issue of harmful algal blooms. It addressed four community-engagement competencies, including community-engaged partnerships, community-engaged teaching and learning, community-engaged research, and science communications. Here, we report evaluation results on changes in these four competencies and participant satisfaction. We conclude with a discussion of potential improvements and next steps for those seeking to host similar community-engaged trainings.