Announcing the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program

Today we’re delighted to announce a brand new fellowship program from AAAS, thanks to the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program will be a one year pilot to support the professional development and ongoing professionalization of community engagement experts within the scientific community.

You can read more about the program in the EurekAlert news release, and the accompanying story on aaas.org . We’ve addressed some more general questions about how the program fits in with Trellis and what it will look like below.

What’s a community engagement professional?

Community engagement professionals are the glue of many science and technology communities, including the multi-year, multi-institution collaborations that are emerging across science. These individuals may play a number of roles to ensure that the community they work with is productive and successful. That might include welcoming new members to the community, connecting members to one another, catalyzing discussions, providing technical support and representing the community at events, on social media and so on.

Community engagement is an emerging profession, and individuals carrying out these roles frequently are doing so in addition to other responsibilities – often without professional development opportunities and peer support. The AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program will address how to better support these community managers within science – including how to demonstrate the value of the role.

How does this fit with Trellis?

At its heart, Trellis is about enabling any group within the scientific community to come together to communicate and collaborate more effectively. From our inception, we’ve recognized that community managers are key to ensuring that collaborative groups are successful, and we already have a family of groups on Trellis focused exclusively on scientific community building.

The AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program builds on our commitment to community engagement. We plan to use Trellis for some of the program’s activities – such as communication with and between the fellows – as well as to share key findings from the program with other scientific community engagement professionals there.

What’s the program going to look like?

Initial planning for the program will begin in 2016 with a landscape survey of the current state of community management within science. We suspect that individuals carrying out the roles of community managers have diverse job titles and we’re interested to know more about where this role exists, and what it looks like.

As community managers generally have broad skillsets – including engagement, technical and content-creation skills – we’re also keen to determine the paths that community managers have taken to reach their current positions, as well as where they fit within the organization that they work for.

The survey results will inform the creation of a community engagement curriculum which we’ll be developing through to the end of 2016. We’ll begin recruiting fellows in the early summer for a one year placement starting in January 2017.

We anticipate that the initial cohort of around 18 fellows will be split between those already in an existing role, and those new to the field. For the latter we’ll be seeking partner organizations to host them for the duration of the fellowship. Fellows will take part in a week-long training at the start of the program and a mid-year training, as well as monthly meetings throughout 2017.

How can I find out more?

If you have questions about the Fellowship program – as a professional already in a community engagement role, or a society or research organization looking for greater support for your staff members in this role – please get in touch: communityfellows@aaas.org.

Additional contact information

To ask a question or let us know that you’re interested in learning more about the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program, drop us an email: communityfellows@aaas.org

To find out more about Trellis, please sign up for early access at trelliscience.com or email us at info@trelliscience.com, telling us about your group.

You can also follow us on Twitter: @trelliscience