Alda Center faculty contribute to science communication training book

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Dr. Brenda MacArthur and Dr. Nicole Leavey, both assistant professors of practice at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, published a chapter in the recent book, "Theory and Best Practices in Science Communication Training,” published by Routledge.

The book brings together leading experts and practitioners of science communication training from around the world to create an interdisciplinary overview of the field, including best practices and areas for future research.

“The fields of science communication and science communication training are vital in preparing scientists to discuss their work with the public, policymakers, media, and other scientists,” said Dr. Laura Lindenfeld, executive director of the Alda Center and interim dean of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. “I am thrilled this book provides this critical link, and offers important insights to all of us who are committed to this work.”

The field of science communication is relatively new, but has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, as scientists and researchers place increased importance on sharing their work with policymakers, members of the media, the public, and other scientists. Edited by Dr. Todd Newman, an assistant professor in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and former postdoctoral associate at the Alda Center, the book discusses scientists as strategic communicators, science communication training design and assessment, and future directions for such training programs.

MacArthur and Leavey’s chapter, “Abandoning the runaway train: Slowing down to draw on lessons learned from health communication training,” discusses the more advanced field of health communication training, and draws parallels from the evolution of that field with the nascent field of science communication. The chapter was co-authored by Amanda Ng, an epidemiology doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park, and former graduate assistant at the Alda Center.

“Effective communication training is now recognized to be a vital component of professional education and training in healthcare,” said MacArthur. “We’re beginning to see a similar value placed on clear and vivid communication in traditional STEM fields. The science communication training community can gain valuable insights and lessons from work already done in healthcare fields.”

“Healthcare and STEM professionals have the incredible opportunity to share their work with the general public, often including media and policymakers, but it can be challenging for this audience to adhere to scientific recommendations in instances when they don’t necessarily understand them,” said Leavey. “Experts in these fields are beginning to see value in clear communication to ensure public understanding of the work. This book will help communication trainers and ‘science of science communication’ researchers to further the field and its goals, for the good of society.”