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Partnership Awards Presented for Projects Advancing Science Communication in Appalachia, Police Departments, and Hospitals

Three efforts have been selected by the National Academy of Sciences to foster collaboration in science communication and engagement.

Are there new approaches to communicating about environmental issues that could more effectively reach underserved rural and urban communities? What engagement tools can help police departments apply research on effective and fair policing practices? How can effective science communication take place in the high-stakes setting of intensive care units?

Three collaborative efforts to bring together expertise in science communication research and practice have been selected to receive the Building Capacity for Science Communication Partnership Awards by the National Academy of Sciences’ Standing Committee on Advancing Science Communication Research and Practice. The projects will receive $110,000 total to seed work to advance the science and the practice of science communication through innovative, early-stage projects to address communications challenges among communities in Kentucky, Virginia, and Southern California. The awards are supported by the Rita Allen and Kavli Foundations.

A Partnership Support Grant, which supports the design, execution, and the evaluation of the first stages of a collaborative project, has been awarded to William Haneberg, Director of the Kentucky Geological Survey, and Lauren Cagle, Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky. The Kentucky Geological Survey researches geological resources, environmental issues, and natural hazards affecting the communities of the state of Kentucky, and also seeks to communicate its findings to communities, business owners, and other stakeholders in the state. This partnership with the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies is designed to develop and test novel strategies to engage traditionally underserved rural and urban Appalachian communities around environmental issues and natural hazards affecting their lives.

A second Partnership Support Grant has been awarded to Cynthia Lum and Christopher Koper of George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy and Thomas Pulaski and James Carr of the Prince William County Police Department to develop approaches for communicating research about effective and fair law enforcement practice with police and institutionalizing its application. The Prince William County Police Department is a large police force serving a diverse and growing region in Northern Virginia. The partnership will allow the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy to lend their expertise to develop and evaluate tools for implementing evidence-based policing, as well as examine ways police can encourage others in the agency to adopt these practices. The project will add to the body of knowledge and resources about strategies, organizational infrastructure, and practices that support research use in policing practice.

The third grant, a Catalyst Award, has been awarded to facilitate a new partnership. Dong Chang of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and the University of California, Los Angeles; Libby Hoy of Patient Family Centered Care Partners; and Glena Cheng of Southern California Kaiser Permanente will develop a collaborative partnership focused on improving communication about medical treatment decisions to patients in intensive care units and their family members. The project seeks to leverage the expertise and networks of the partners—an ICU clinician, an expert in patient and family-centered care, and a health services researcher—to identify practical solutions that improve communication about shared decision-making, with the goal of promoting patient-centered care and minimizing non-beneficial treatments. The team will develop a workshop to convene stakeholders from two large healthcare organizations in Southern California—the Los Angeles Department of Health Services, which serves approximately 600,000 predominantly indigent patients, and Kaiser Permanente Southern California, which serves approximately 4.6 million members—to discuss these communication issues and identify potential solutions.

In addition to advancing their individual projects, the teams will convene and produce a report providing additional insights for others looking to expand the science and practice of effective science communication.

This is the second year of the Building Capacity for Science Communication Partnership Awards. Previous awards were presented in 2017 to a team led by Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College, working in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Health to find effective messages to combat vaccine hesitancy among parents, as well as a team led by Elizabeth Suhay of American University, working in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science to identify recommended practices for communicating about science with policymakers.