Successful scientists must be effective communicators within their professions. Without those skills, they could not write papers and funding proposals, give talks and field questions, or teach classes and mentor students. However, communicating with audiences outside their profession – people who may not share scientists’ interests, technical background, cultural assumptions, and modes of expression – presents different challenges and requires additional skills. Communication about science in political or social settings differs from discourse within a scientific discipline. Not only are scientists just one of many stakeholders vying for access to the public agenda, but the political debates surrounding science and its applications may sometimes confront scientists with unfamiliar and uncomfortable discussions involving religious values, partisan interests, and even the trustworthiness of science.
The Science of Science Communication III: Inspiring Novel Collaborations and Building Capacity summarizes the presentations and discussions from a Sackler Colloquium convened in November 2017. This event used Communicating Science Effectively as a framework for examining how one might apply its lessons to research and practice. It considered opportunities for creating and applying the science along with the barriers to doing so, such as the incentive systems in academic institutions and the perils of communicating science in polarized environments. Special attention was given to the organization and infrastructure necessary for building capacity in science communication.