FREE outreach class for scientists is back!

UPDATE (SEPTEMBER 2): Registration for our class has closed early. We have received over 170 applications in a week and we want to make sure that we don’t have more course participants than we can handle. We have more outreach training classes coming over the next few months and you can sign up for our e-mail list to keep informed.

Just like Doctor X, the SciFund outreach class is returning to a (computer) screen near you.

The SciFund Challenge outreach training class is back, by popular demand!

Scientists, do you want to tell the public about your science? At a time of slashing cuts to science funding, maybe you want to explain to the public why your field deserves public support. Maybe you want to set the record straight about misconceptions the public holds about your field. Or maybe you just want to finally be able to explain to your friends and family what it is you actually do at work.

But how do you, dear scientist, get started with your outreach? After all, most researchers don’t have any experience or training in connecting the public with their science. That’s where SciFund Challenge comes in.

Join the SciFund Challenge community for our online course aimed at helping scientists get started with outreach. Over 5 weeks, we’ll demystify the business of communicating science and equip you with the tools and confidence you need to get started.

Outreach 101 for Scientists: Getting started with engaging the public with your science

Cost: FREE. However, we aren’t just giving this course away. Course participants must pledge to share what they have learned with their colleagues.

When: September 21-October 25, 2014 (five weeks)

Where: The Internet! This course will be highly interactive and will take place largely through short videos, Google Hangouts, blog posts, and Twitter.

Who: Active scientists in any country in any discipline at any level (from graduate student to emeritus professor to government scientist to NGO scientist). This course is intended for scientists who are new to outreach, but are interested in getting started with it.

What course participants will gain from the course:

  • Confidence to get started with outreach.
  • Understanding of how to communicate their science in a manner that is compelling to the general public.
  • Overview comprehension of the many ways that scientists can engage the public.
  • The syllabus for last year’s outreach course is here and this year’s class will be similar.

Time that course participants should expect to spend on course: 3-4 hours per week.

Expected number of course participants: Roughly 100.

Deadline for completing course application: September 18, 2014. Last year, this course maxed out within a week of the course announcement, so don’t wait to apply if you are interested. Decisions on applications will be given within three days of submission.

Requirements for course participants. Course participants must:

  1. be fluent in written and spoken English
  2. have access to a computer with a webcam or other video/audio recording device
  3. have broadband access to the Internet (minimum connection speed: 1 mbps upload, 4 mbps download)
  4. want to have fun

Course instructors:

  • Zen Faulkes, Behavioral Ecologist, University of Texas Pan-American and blogger at NeuroDojo.
  • Jai Ranganathan, Conservation Biologist, University of California, Santa Barbara and co-founder, SciFund Challenge.
  • Anthony Salvagno, Biophysicist and board member, SciFund Challenge.

Our class is based upon students engaging with each other in many ways during the course (via Google Hangouts, Twitter, and other means). As a result, the identity of every class participant will be known by all other participants. You won’t be able to take this class anonymously or with a pseudonym.

SciFund Challenge has done lots of science crowdfunding in the past. Is this course connected to crowdfunding?
Not directly. The purpose of this course is to get scientists started with outreach. However, our analysis of the almost 200 SciFund Challenge crowdfunding projects shows that audience size is a key determinant of crowdfunding success (read our manuscript here). Conducting outreach in a sustained way is the number one way for scientists to build an audience over time. So, this outreach course could be considered the first step for scientists who are considering crowdfunding for their research in the future.

Other questions? Contact Jai Ranganathan (