Engaging policymakers, journalists, and community leaders
We believe scientists can be agents of change when they engage directly with the people who can benefit from their knowledge. We strategically connect scientists to key communities and people positioned to influence and enact change, crossing boundaries and sparking new collaborations.
Working with Outside Experts
Why we bring in outside experts
Bringing diverse voices and perspectives together leads to transformative change. Our 20 years of relationship-building with policymakers, journalists, and community leaders position us to bring the right people together when the time is right for evidence-based ideas and solutions. Top experts generously share their on-the-ground experience in policy, media, and leadership with scientists in our workshops and events.
How we work with journalists
Journalists partner with us to make new connections, hear untold stories, and inspire scientists to think about their work in new ways. We strategically connect journalists to scientists in a variety of ways—as outside experts in our workshops, locally or regionally through events like our Montana wildfire field trip, and at key scientific convenings, like our biennial journalist travel award to attend the North American Congress for Conservation Biology (NACCB). Journalists who partner and engage with COMPASS reflect unique identities, voices, outlets, and perspectives, and are committed to working with diverse scientists to uncover new stories and solutions.
How we work with policymakers
Policymakers, much like journalists, benefit from their relationship with COMPASS by learning about issues that impact their constituents and hearing diverse perspectives on how to solve our biggest challenges, like biodiversity loss and climate change. We hold scientific briefings on Capitol Hill and at the state level to address knowledge gaps that we see and needs expressed by legislative staffers. We can also help policymakers find topical experts who are prepared to share their knowledge clearly and compellingly.
Tools & Resources
Tools and tips for engaging with policymakers & journalists
Nervous about returning a journalists’ call? Antsy about talking with an elected official? Looking to share insights from your research with others in a way that’s meaningful for them? We’ve pulled our key digital resources together in one place for you.
I’ve been engaging with external audiences about my research on controversial forest management issues for nearly 40 years, but this was the best opportunity I’ve had to participate in a critical evaluation of the whole communication process with a group of research peers and media experts… Simply hearing what a ‘day in the life of a journalist’ is like will change the way I react to the next email or phone request for an interview.
~ Dr. Tom Veblen, Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder
Four well-known, leading reporters accompanied COMPASS and helped with the workshop. These leading journalists discussed how the media is changing and the importance of communicating science to the public and to policymakers. They shared their personal perspectives on what makes a good science story and how to get our stories told.
~ Dr. John Reganold, Regents Professor, Washington State University
Having someone with a critical eye who knows the science but also how things work on Capitol Hill, someone who can say ‘that’s too much jargon' or explain the proposed legislation or the constraints—that’s an invaluable service that COMPASS provides.
~ Dr. Scott Doney, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Don’t underestimate the power of sharing your science with people who can use it, the value of the COMPASS practitioners to help you communicate, and the network of opportunities COMPASS can provide. It’s worth your time.
~ Dr. Brian Chaffin, Assistant Professor of Water Policy, University of Montana
Much of my ability to connect with journalists comes from my willingness to engage them on their terms. COMPASS helped me learn how to identify what journalists need, and to talk about my work in that context.
~ Dr. Gretchen Hofmann, Professor, University of Santa Barbara
I feel so much more empowered now. I actually have tools at my disposal, and this awesome network of people who are interested and impassioned. That’s been the greatest gift.
~ Dr. Se Jin Song, Director of Research, Center for Microbiome Innovation, University of California
The network I have developed from attending two NACCB conferences as a fellow has been immeasurably helpful, and provided important context to my reporting on issues over the past four years.
~ Niki Wilson, Science Writer
You know your COMPASS training worked when a congressional staffer repeats your message back to you more than a year later!
~ Dr. Jennifer Balch, Director, Earth Lab; Associate Professor of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder