Refugees Welcome | May 2019

News and Things for May 2019
Curated by Ben Young Landis

  • Connecting with Your Audience workshop returns June 21st
  • Refugees welcome in Worcester, Mass.
  • A Sorting Hat for scicomm careers
  • Furry hippos and scaly sharks: lessons for communication
  • Rewriting climate change
  • Upcoming workshops and events

#CWYAscicomm Workshop Returns on June 21st

“Connecting with Your Audience: Tools for Effective Science Communication” returns to Sacramento on Friday, June 21st. This half-day course is the perfect primer for scientists and technical professionals who want to learn how to explain their work to decisionmakers and public stakeholders. Student rates available — come spend an afternoon of team work and live improv practice with new colleagues and friends! (Register for our June 21st workshop | Find recent workshop photos on Twitter)

Shirt Design Rallies Support for Refugee Services

June 20th is recognized by the United Nations as World Refugee Day. If you lead a U.S. nonprofit that provides refugee assistance services in your community, you can use our “Refugees Welcome” t-shirt design for your fundraising needs. The design was originally donated to the Worcester Refugee Assistance Project (WRAP), a dedicated nonprofit which provides youth tutoring, English learning classes, and community programming for Karen, Karenni, Rohingya, and other refugees from Burma who have been settled in Worcester, Massachusetts. (Donate to WRAP to receive your Refugees Welcome t-shirtLearn more about the Refugees Welcome shirt design in our portfolio)

Students, Postdocs Try on “Sorting Hat” in Workshop on Science Writing Careers

Originally established via a NIH BEST grant, UC Davis FUTURE is a career exploration program serving students and postdocs in research fields advancing health. We have led a variety of professional development workshops for FUTURE participants, the latest being our session “So You Want To Be a Science Writer: A Tour of Careers and Pathways” held on May 20th. Attendees were taught the nuances between advisory and advocate roles, and explored vocational paths in journalism, public affairs, outreach, and policy. (See photos from our May 20th #CareerSciComm workshop | Request a workshop)

Furry Hippos: Why Contextual Information Matters in Describing the Unseeable

A recent study authored by Judy S. Kim and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University compared how congenitally blind persons and sighted persons understood the physical appearance of animals. Their findings suggest that for those without sight experience, our ideas about an animal’s appearance might be inferred from contextual or taxonomic knowledge of that animal (e.g. hippos are mammals; mammals have fur; hippos are likely furry). This research question has applications for science communicators: it is a poignant reminder of why we must take care to provide sufficient context when explaining the complex and unfamiliar. The non-specialist is equally blind to a virus, greenhouse gasses, or a toxic chemical — and as communicators, we need to provide enough relational information to help others grasp the unseen and make better inferences. (Find the PNAS article | Read the Johns Hopkins news release | Download the preprint PDF at PsyArXiv)

Rewriting ‘Climate Change’

British daily newspaper The Guardian has instructed its journalists to use terms that more accurately describe the state of planetary health. “Climate crisis” and “climate science denier” are now preferred over “climate change” and “climate skeptic” respectively. The move is a reminder of the complicated historic relationship between journalistic drivers and scientific consensus-forming — which may have hobbled public understanding of climate science for decades — a relationship best captured by journalist Andrew Revkin in his writings “On Balance, Hype, Climate and the Media” back in 2010. (Read The Guardian’s announcement | Read Revkin’s Dot Earth blogpost)

Upcoming Events

June 17th Workshop: “Helping Science Inform Policy: Tools for Engaging State-Level Leaders” with Ben Young Landis and Sarah Brady (UC Davis FUTURE, Davis, California)

June 21st Workshop: “Connecting with Your Audience: Tools for Effective Science Communication” with Ben Young Landis (Sacramento, California)

October 25-29th Conference: ScienceWriters2019 annual meeting (State College, Pennsylvania)

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“Have fun. Do no harm. Leave the world a better place.”

— Ben Young Landis