News from the Field

Watch our science communications webinar on new approaches to reaching new audiences

Last week, Media Impact Funders continued its series of funder conversations to connect grantmakers with research, strategy and practice in science communications with its latest webinar organized around two upcoming convenings: SMASH (Science Media Awards & Summit in the Hub) and WGBH Innovation IdeaLab.

We invited speakers from these two science media conferences to discuss the question we’ve been exploring for over a year now: For funders who care about science and civic life, how do we reach new and diverse audiences with science content that sparks curiosity and learning?

Watch the webinar here and use the time stamps below to follow along in the recording:

The webinar featured:

  • Kaitlin Yarnall (2:43), senior vice president for Media Innovation at the National Geographic Society, who provided an overview of the discussion and context for its importance
  • John Bredar (5:34), vice president of national programming at WGBH, who provided an overview of the SMASH convening and its objective to increase science literacy to diverse audiences.
  • Adnaan Wasey (11:49), Rita Allen Fellow for Science Communication, who spoke about his work around developing innovative methods to engage new audiences and reaching nonelite audiences through entertainment media.
  • Linda Harrar (23:14), senior programs manager at WGBH Innovation IdeaLab, who offered an overview of IdeaLab and its model for communicating science to a wide range of audiences, including its strategy of sourcing science information to media outlets that in turn translate the knowledge into media programs for wide audience distribution.
  • Waleed Adbalati (32:04), Glaciologist & former NASA chief scientist, who talked about his experience in bringing his scientific research to IdeaLab and in conveying important scientific information and the various ways to deliver it to non-science audiences.
  • Diane Ives (38:45), fund advisor for the Kendeda Fund’s People, Place and Planet program, who provided the funder perspective on support for IdeaLab. 

SMASH starts Tuesday, Sept. 25, and runs through Sept. 27 in Boston. Learn more here and follow the stream with #sciencemedia. The Innovation IdeaLab takes place Tuesday, Oct. 30, in Boston.

MIF is building a network around science communications

Last fall, the Rita Allen Foundation organized a funder breakfast at the Sackler Colloquium on the Science of Science Communication III to delve deeper into issues of science communication, specifically around the National Academy of Sciences’ report, Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda. The rich content shared during the high-energy discussions suggested great potential for further collaboration and learning, particularly around popular culture, art and creative spaces, to connect science with people from different backgrounds, experiences and education levels.

To continue the conversation started at the Sackler Colloquium, MIF has developed a series of funder conversations to connect grantmakers with research, strategy and practice in science communications. Past MIF programs include:

The Public Face of Science
Last fall, we hosted a webinar in collaboration with the Academy of Arts and Sciences on the Public Face of Science, a multi-year project that explores the intersection of science and civic life. That conversation offered funders a preview of research on public attitudes ranging from general perceptions to the influence of demographics on views on specific issues. Read more.

How Popular Culture Can Elevate the Public’s Understanding of Science
How do we continue reaching new and diverse audiences with science content that sparks curiosity and learning? In collaboration with the Rita Allen Foundation, Media Impact Funders presented a webinar exploring how popular culture can elevate the public’s understanding of science. It offered funders a glimpse into how two foundations—the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Simons Foundation—are supporting and disseminating science content to a broad audience. Read more.

The 2018 Media Impact Forum
At our annual Media Impact Forum on May 10 in Philadelphia, we focused on the excellent practice in the communications of scientific information, and new ideas in the science of communications. The Forum helped philanthropy focus on the special role of science in our national debates, the importance of sharpening the communications of science, and broader issues about how to understand when communications and storytelling make a difference. Read more.

Stay tuned for more information on fall 2018 science communications convenings. Interested in learning more about this network? Let us know.