Syllabus for outreach training class

The first SciFund Challenge class will be exactly like this.
The first SciFund Challenge class will be exactly like this.

The first SciFund Challenge outreach training class starts next week and we are excited! For those of you following along at home, here’s our syllabus.

SciFund Challenge Course One: Outreach 101

Course instructors: Jai Ranganathan (Co-founder, SciFund Challenge), Anthony Salvagno (University of New Mexico), Kelly Weinersmith (University of California, Davis), Siouxsie Wiles (University of Auckland)

Course dates: April 29-May 31, 2013

This short course is intended for researchers that are new to science outreach, but are interested in getting started with it. The philosophy of this class is that three factors tend to keep scientists from doing outreach: a lack of outreach knowledge, a lack of outreach experience, and a lack of a community that supports outreach. The purpose of this class is to do something about all three of these things.

In this class, we will be putting a focus on communication and community-building between class participants, emphasizing face to face communication (using tools like group video conferencing with Google Hangouts). With 171 class participants sprinkled all over the world, this is going to be an scheduling challenge, but we can do it.

At the end of this class, class participants should have:
1) an overview understanding of the many ways that scientists are connecting to the public with their science
2) an understanding of how to craft a science message compelling to general audiences
3) a little bit of experience with a wide range of outreach tools
4) the beginnings of their own outreach community
5) an outreach plan for the future

There are five weeks in our short course and a specific plan for each week. At the beginning of each week, or shortly before, you’ll receive the plan and assignments for each week. To give you a taster, here is the overall plan for the class week by week:

Week 1 (April 28-May 4): Getting started
We’ll start with group discussions about what are the barriers that stand between you and outreach. We’ll also get started with video production and Twitter.

Week 2 (May 5-11): Crafting your message
We’ll work on the tricky challenge of how to create a compelling message out of the often-hard-to-explain research that we do. The focus of the week will be a technique called the Message Box. Developed by COMPASS and roadtested by hundreds of scientists, it is a proven method for shaping science messages. We’ll be working on these tasks both individually and in groups.

Week 3 (May 12-18): Blogging
We’ll put our finely-crafted science messages to work, with our introduction to blogging. The focus here will be on messaging that is intended for non-specialist audiences and, as before, we’ll be doing this individually and in groups. If you are nervous about public blogging, not to worry. Everything we do here will be on a private blog that only class participants can see.

Week 4 (May 19-25): Public speaking
We will practice public speaking with each other, via group video conference calls. We will be using a very specific type of short public presentation, called an Ignite talk.

Week 5 (May 26-June 1): Your outreach future
Each of us will be coming up with an outreach plan for our future. We’ll also be practicing our elevator pitch with each other in group discussions.

There is a whole world of science outreach methods (podcasts, etc.) that we won’t have time to specifically practice in this class. However, we’ll be providing links to this greater world of outreach along the way to class participants.



  1. Profile photo of Brian Glanz says

    Way cool to see you leading by example and blogging it, Jai : ) With so much going on in online edu I am looking forward to watching the path SciFund carves. Apparently somewhere south of 10% of MOOC students complete the course, says this dataset while there are many differences in the SciFund approach. A few of them: there is more of a community in SciFund, more a purpose in the association with one’s career in science and with prospective future crowdfunding i.e. this is professional development, you have several instructors and more personal interaction planned. Will be fun to watch and I’m glad to volunteer Open Science Federation’s support.