Leveraging anniversary programming & content to nurture community

In this post by CEFP2019 Fellow Camille Santistevan, Associate Director of Public Relations at the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY, she explores how an organization’s anniversary can be an opportunity to nurture community. Camille shares 5 tips for success and 3 potential challenges to anticipate.

Community-first event planning

Is your scientific organization celebrating an anniversary sometime soon? If so, how will you be celebrating?

In the higher education and non-profit sectors, anniversaries are often used to launch major fundraising campaigns. Central leadership, in concert with the development office, tend to spend a lot of time, energy, and resources to organize a big bash for external stakeholders, with the internal community often left as an afterthought.

The ASRC Open House event. Image credit: ASRC.

How can we re-engineer some of this content and programming to supercharge our scientific communities? Below are some ideas both big and small for how community managers can leverage anniversary activities to nurture community. 

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The Value of #Welcome, part 2: How to prepare 40 new community members for an unconference

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Stefanie Butland follows up on her earlier pieces about welcoming community members and running an unconference with more specific advice.

Posted by Stefanie Butland, Community Manager at rOpenSci, – Open Tools for Open Research

I’ve raved about the value of extending a personalized welcome to new community members and I recently shared six tips for running a successful hackathon-flavoured unconference. Building on these, I’d like to share the specific approach and (free!) tools I used to help prepare new rOpenSci community members to be productive at our unconference. My approach was inspired directly by our AAAS CEFP training in community engagement. Specifically, 1) one mentor said that the most successful conference they ever ran involved having one-to-one meetings with all participants prior to the event, and 2) prior to our in-person AAAS-CEFP training, we completed an intake questionnaire that forced us to consider things like “what do you hope to get out of this” and “what do you hope to contribute”.

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Six tips for running a successful unconference

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Stefanie Butland shares tips for fostering in-person relationships in an online community with an annual “unconference”.

Posted by Stefanie Butland, Community Manager at rOpenSci, – Open Tools for Open Research

rOpenSci unconference attendees
Attendees at the May 2017 rOpenSci unconference. Photo credit: Nistara Randhawa

In May 2017, I helped run a wildly successful “unconference” that had a huge positive impact on the community I serve. rOpenSci is a non-profit initiative enabling open and reproducible research by creating technical infrastructure in the form of staff- and community-contributed software tools in the R programming language that lower barriers to working with scientific data sources on the web, and creating social infrastructure through a welcoming and diverse community of software users and developers. Our 4th annual unconference brought together 70 people to hack on projects they dreamed up and to give them opportunities to meet and work together in person. One third of the participants had attended before, and two thirds were first-timers, selected from an open call for applications. We paid all costs up front for anyone who requested this in order to lower barriers to participation.

It’s called an “unconference” because there is no schedule set before the event – participants discuss project ideas online in advance and projects are selected by participant-voting at the start. I’m sharing some tips here on how to do this well for this particular flavour of unconference.

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Dinner parties and sandpits: Intensive retreats to catalyze science collaborations

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, in the last of a three part series of reflections on the Science of Team Science 2017 conference, Fellow Jennifer Davison explores several intensive retreat models for scientific collaboration.

Posted by Jennifer Davison, Program Manager at Urban@UW

Food in bowls
Carefully selected ingredients make the best dinner-
and team building retreat. Credit: “Housewarming Party” by Mikko Kuhna, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The art and practice of providing specific conditions designed to spark novel projects is not new. Business incubators, science parks, and innovation districts are each designed to bring a diverse array of bright people into the same space and to facilitate their interaction, in order to trigger and support new collaborations. At Science of Team Science, many conversations explored how to cultivate research collaborations in a specific, similar way: through themed, time-constrained, highly curated, retreat-like events. I love these events when I’ve joined them, even though they may feel a bit scripted, because the potential of the partnerships and ideas is felt so strongly. And as program manager for Urban@UW, one of my roles is to encourage such collaborations, through as efficient means as possible. So I was interested in both the best practices for setting up such events, and the evidence for their effectiveness.

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