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Scientific society support for scientists working to build institutional capacity for public engagement: Examples from the AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute
  • Emily Cloyd
Emily Cloyd
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile


The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science, founded in 2015, empowers scientists and engineers to develop and implement public engagement activities, mentor other scientists in their communities and promote public engagement within their institutions. Each year the AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute brings together 15 mid-career researchers working on a topic at the nexus of science and society for a week of intensive training, public engagement practice, and planning. During the following year at their home institutions, AAAS Leshner Fellows implement their plans, interact via regular virtual meetings and receive additional support from staff and experts in the field of public engagement. One of the goals of the AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute is to catalyze institutional change: building understanding about, capacity for and support of public engagement within the various institutions with which researchers are affiliated. AAAS Leshner Fellows have sought to identify opportunities for institutional change within a variety of settings, including universities, government agencies and professional societies. This presentation will provide examples of institutional change from the first three cohorts of AAAS Leshner Fellows (2016-17, climate change; 2017-18, infectious disease; 2018-19, food and water security), including the ways in which they have worked to integrate public engagement into the purpose of the institutions, build processes to support public engagement, and empower people within the institutions to participate in public engagement. It will also discuss the opportunities and challenges for encouraging institutional change via a distributed network of individuals who are linked by discipline but not (necessarily) by institution.