Initial Publication Date: February 3, 2022

Engaging the Public Workshop Summary

Authors: Lisa White, Sharon Cooper, Randi Wold- Brennon, Jonathan C. Lewis

This web page is based on discussions at the June, 2021 virtual workshop, Advancing Scientific Ocean Drilling IMPACT: Engaging the Public. The information presented here has been reviewed by the workshop convenors and is now open for comments from all workshop participants. It represents a synthesis of the workshop community's collective understanding of the challenges faced by scientific ocean drilling when engaging with policy.

Overview of the Informing Policymakers IMPACT Workshop Program

The U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) organized a virtual workshop series for community input to help shape a later face-to-face workshop on Education and Outreach as an Enabling Element of the 2050 Scientific Ocean Drilling (SciOD) Science Framework. The objective of the two-day virtual workshop was to listen to IODP community members as well as people outside of IODP to help focus the priorities for the in-person workshop. Here we present the results of the virtual meetings held on June 22 and 24, including the additional feedback provided by participants through the meeting website, hosted by the Science Education Resource Center (SERC).

The workshop revolved around four guiding questions:

The questions were addressed in randomly generated Zoom breakout rooms each using JamBoards to capture and organize emerging themes.  The results were then shared with the entire group and discussion continued with posts in our virtual workspace.


In response to the guiding questions that we asked during the virtual workshops, some clear findings began to emerge:

What tools of engagement work best (e.g., videos, social media, curricula, books, events, etc.) in your community/organization?

  • A clear signal that rose to the top of most breakout group's lists was that of the importance of storytelling.  
  • Importance of social meeting, in-person presentations, community events, and opportunities to interact with artifacts  
  • Note specific social media vehicles have specific types of audiences and we need to be mindful when communicating with different groups
  • Diversity of strategies is important
  • The need to foster authentically inviting spaces for people who may not identify yet with the research drilling community, followed by maintaining those spaces through embracing the changes that emerge

What questions do you (your community) have about deep ocean exploration and how the Earth works?

  • Concerns that the drilling process itself might pose environmental risks. 
  • Relevance of SciOD to society?'  These questions highlight opportunities for SciOD to more widely educate society about both how the work is done, and how the results have societal implications
  • Climate change issues

How do the people in your community connect science and cultural world views?

  • Emphasizing the time and effort to build meaningful partnerships with communities with whom we have not been effectively engaged before
  • Seek out mechanisms to engage more stakeholder communities in the face-to-face workshop.  
  • Two animating topics emerged that should help the community find success in these efforts: (1) stewardship of Earth transcends many community boundaries and as such should be leveraged to engage citizens, and (2) economic realities must be considered when reaching out to the public.  The latter was encapsulated by the question "what do people value?"
  • Need to highlight relevance

How can we foster partnerships and collaborations between your community and scientific ocean drilling?

  • Emphasize societal relevance 
  • Develop a brand that is durable, e.g., as NASA has.   
  • Leverage existing partnerships
  • Apply for collaborative grants with PI groups that include members of the communities we want to reach
  • Going into communities across the country

Summary of the Emerging Themes

The marginalized communities on the front lines of rising sea level noted above highlight important opportunities.  SciOD must look for mechanisms to engage such communities, perhaps leveraging other stakeholders (e.g., tourism sector, fisheries) or collectives (e.g., NSF's Coastlines and People projects, CoPE, NOAA's Sea Grant project) and those with pre-existing links into coastal communities, in order to engage in meaningful dialogues.

Overall Takeaways

  • Relevance
  • Capturing Imagination
  • Becoming better storytellers
  • Get more diversity IN THE ROOM
  • Developing authentic partnerships based on trust
  • Scaling up existing programs

Toward the Face-to-Face IMPACT Workshop

One of the dominant themes to reveal itself during the workshop was the question of 'who is missing?'  The public is vast, so the nature of public engagement naturally varies widely. One approach to thinking about how to organize the face-to-face workshop is to subdivide our discussions using concept maps.  One type of map is based on the following logic: Specific tools (social media, lecture series) should be used to amplify specific messages (branding, relevant outcomes) for specific audiences (museum visitors, serendipitous social media interactions) to engage as much of the public as is possible.  This can be envisioned as a dartboard target (see Figure at right).  Each of the rings provides both potential participants for the face-to-face workshop, but also a starting point for the meeting agenda.

Workshop Summary -- Discussion  

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