Embedding Public Engagement with Science at Long Term Ecological Research Sites (PES @ LTERs) is a three-year research project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program. The goal of the project is to embed public engagement with science into two long term ecological research sites in the northeastern US: the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the Harvard Forest in western Massachusetts.
The big-picture vision driving the PES @ LTERs project is to investigate public engagement with science as a potentially transformative force on the cultures, practices, and institutions of science. Because the research programs at Harvard Forest and Hubbard Brook have already established strong foundations in science communication, public engagement, and policy integration, the sites are ideal for pushing these fields forward and addressing important questions such as:
- What are scientists’ goals for engagement? What are their attitudes and beliefs about engagement and how might these views change over time with experiences?
- What are the impacts of multiple modes of engagement on both stakeholder and scientist participants?
- What support mechanisms are needed at the institutional level to overcome barriers to engagement?
The PES @ LTERs project will link social science research and program evaluation with the development and implementation of several activities over a three-year period. These activities include:
- Two intensive, dialogue-based projects to co-produce science syntheses with teams of scientists and stakeholders.
- Professional development opportunities for Harvard Forest and Hubbard Brook researchers and students in science communication, public engagement, and broader impacts project design.
- New science communication tools including a regular science news digest for interested stakeholders and new partnerships with regional media outlets.
- A scientist speakers’ bureau for facilitating engagement within stakeholder networks and meetings.
The project is led by Sarah Garlick from the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, Kathy Fallon Lambert from Harvard Forest, John Besley from Michigan State University, Peter Groffman from CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, Pam Templer from Boston University, Shannon Rogers from the University of New Hampshire, and evaluators from the RMC Research Corporation.
The new grant was awarded through the NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This is a follow-up to the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation's Forest Science Dialogues project, which allowed investigators to develop a roundtable method of facilitating direct, in-person engagement between scientists and stakeholders, and to use public engagement to define key areas of overlapping interest between local stakeholders and scientists who work at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest.
For more information about this project, please contact PI Sarah Garlick: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Forest Science Dialogues poster from the 2016 Advancing Informal STEM Learning PI Conferene in Bethesda, Maryland
- Why Public Engagement Matters web page from AAAS
- Center for the Advancement of Informal STEM Learning