Public Engagement Benefits Scientists
The positive effects of scientist engagement with the general public are well documented, but most investigations have focused on the benefits to the public rather than on those performing engagement activities. Nalini Nadkarni of the University of Utah and colleagues "reverse the lens" on public engagement with science, discovering numerous benefits for scientists involved in these efforts.
The authors distributed pre- and post-event surveys to individuals who are incarcerated in a state prison and a county jail as part of the Initiative to Bring Science Programs to the Incarcerated (INSPIRE) program, through which scientists present informal scientific lectures in carceral settings. This sort of engagement is particularly important, say the authors, given the growing emphasis among funding agencies and in academia on broadening the reach of science to include scientifically underserved groups.
The results of the surveys were striking, with 100% of the scientist participants reporting that they would recommend the program to their colleagues. Scientists who gave lectures also reported an increased interest in taking action on issues related to social justice, with one respondent stating, “It has motivated me to take more actions. A couple of years from now, I plan to design programs for young adults from minority families.”
Authors Nalini Nadkarni, Jeremy Morris, JJ Horns join us on this episode of BioScience Talks to discuss the article and the promise of greater public engagement with science.