Reflecting on some highlights from 2021

Happy new year! We hope that you got a bit of a break over the holiday period. Before we outline what’s coming up at CSCCE in 2022, we wanted first to reflect on 2021 and another busy 12 months for the CSCCE team. 

While this post summarizes a few of CSCCE’s “greatest hits,” from the year, it has also been an emotionally and logistically challenging year, with many of us operating under conditions of radical uncertainty and yet always trying to show one another care. As we continue to operate in the midst of a global pandemic, we want to acknowledge that while it’s important to celebrate our successes, 2021 has been difficult too.

Before we dig in, a heartfelt thank you to everyone we’ve worked with over the past year; members of our community of practice, learners in our online trainings, and clients and colleagues. We appreciate every joyful opportunity to learn and grow alongside you as we work to professionalize and institutionalize the role of the community manager in STEM. 

We’d also like to thank our major funder, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, for their continued support, guidance, and commitment to the importance of building communities in STEM. 

Community news

The CSCCE community of practice grew steadily in 2021, and now includes more than 350 members in our Slack workspace, with 17 public channels devoted to a range of topics (including the relatively recent addition of #pets, by popular demand!). This year, conversations in Slack have included community governance, virtual meeting tech tips, open  science resources, and many webinar opportunities from across the STEM ecosystem. As a community, members have  gathered in small groups for virtual coworking, and we’ve hosted monthly community calls on topics ranging from cultivating our own resilience through to supporting community champions. One of our call highlights was our mid-year virtual networking extravaganza where Katie lovingly curated electronic dance cards to pair members with similar interests. We also explored community governance models via an interactive activity, with breakout groups discussing the pros and cons of different models. And we rounded out the year with our customary reflection and sharing in our community potluck

If you’re interested in joining the community, you can request an invitation to the workspace here. Or, for more information, please contact info@cscce.org

Resources

In 2021, we published eight new guidebooks and tipsheets, as well as 19 new community profiles, describing different STEM community profiles using our frameworks. We share all of our resources as free PDF downloads on Zenodo, and by the end of the year had surpassed 21,000 total downloads. 

As a quick recap: we started off in January with the release of The CSCCE Skills Wheel – Five core competencies and 45 skills to describe the role of the community engagement manager in STEM, which detailed the work of the C3 project team (Malin Sandström, Elisha Wood-Charlson, Jennifer Davison, and Andreas Leidolf) from the 2017 cohort of the CSCCE Community Engagement Fellows Program. This framework has been useful for many years now in supporting  community managers with describing their roles – and hiring managers articulating what they’re looking for in a community hire! 

We also built on resources from 2020, publishing the second section of a three-part guidebook focused on our Community Participation Model (CPM), “Exploring the Champion mode” This new installment describes the fifth mode of the CPM – where community champions act as emergent leaders to help advance the community. You can explore more about the role and benefits of champions in the guidebook. The third and final part of the Community Participation Model guidebook, “Scaffolding for supporting movement between the CPM modes,” is in progress, and will likely be the next resource we publish.

In many ways, 2021 was the year of community champions, emergent leaders who take on additional responsibilities to ensure the success of a community; We’re also working on co-creating nine new tipsheets to build on the framework outlined in the guidebook. Co-authored with members of our champions programs working group, the first four tipsheets will be published early in 2022.

Also, in 2021 we rounded out our virtual events guide with two additional selections – one on testing supplementary online tools to support participation in your virtual meetings (A guide to using virtual events to facilitate community building: Selecting and testing online tools and one describing an event-planning framework to ensure your online meetings are inclusive and engaging:  A guide to using virtual events to facilitate community building: Making a PACT for more engaging virtual meetings and events). 

You can find all of our resources on the CSCCE website. Our most recent resource, a glossary of terms for inclusive community building, also feeds into our growing glossary for STEM community managers. If you’re interested in helping us build out this particular resource in 2022, let us know by emailing info@cscce.org

Professional development trainings

After an initial pilot in 2020, we ran four sold-out cohorts of “Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals” in 2021. The course has been hugely popular, and offers a foundational training for new and established community managers in STEM. Our January 2022 offering is already full, however if you’re interested in taking it in the second, third, or fourth quarter of the year you can let us know by pre-registering. Pre-registration ensures you’ll be the first to know when dates are announced; cohorts now tend to sell out to  pre-registrants before tickets go on general release. 

2021 also saw a pilot offering of “Nurturing and Stewarding Engaged Online Communities,” a course that explores the social science of how to support more engaged online communities. We’ve been focusing recently on adapting this course to a learning management system (LMS) to support even more interactive classroom time and expect to announce dates for that soon.

We’ll be publishing a more detailed post about what’s coming next for our courses tomorrow.

Clients and partnerships

One of the less visible but definitely not less exciting aspects of our work this year has been our expanding consultancy offerings and partnership building. We enjoy building collaborative thought partnerships with our clients on a variety of projects, including hiring and recruiting community managers, developing community strategy, planning and delivering community champions programs, and more. You can read about a selection of these projects on the CSCCE blog: The Carpentries, EDSIN, and STIP Wilson.

Conferences and symposia

While we haven’t been “on the road” in the literal sense this year, we have been participating virtually in a number of virtual conferences, workshops, symposia, and other events. We’ve created interactive activities, scaffolded engaged discussions, and presented overviews of our core frameworks for participants in the Japan Sci Com Forum, the Inclusive SciComm symposium, at the AGU meeting and CZI meetings – plus several more. You can find all of our conference participation, past and future, here

Books we’ve enjoyed this year

A recurring source of inspiration for the CSCCE team is the long list of books we’ve read and enjoyed. Here’s a few that influenced the way we work this year: 

Thank you for another full and fulfilling year – we look forward to continuing to be of service in 2022!

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