Today we published four tip sheets intended to help you plan and launch a community champions program. They were co-created by CSCCE staff and members of our champions programs working group, and complement the champions guidebook that we released last year.
Ultimately, these four tip sheets will be joined by five more, each one illustrating one of the nine stages of community champions programs described in the guidebook (and shown below). Read on to find out more about champions, champions programs, and how they maintain, grow, and evolve communities in STEM.
CSCCE is wrapping up a project with the National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC) to support their inaugural cohort of NMDC Ambassadors, who are raising awareness and adoption of metadata standards.
The National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC) is an open science platform through which scientists can deposit and find microbiome data. NMDC staff are working to support the adoption of FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) data and metadata practices by the researchers who use their platform. One of the ways they are doing this is through the establishment of a champions program: the NMDC Ambassadors program.
Champions programs are ways of empowering emergent leaders within a community to take on additional roles and push forward the mission of the community. At CSCCE, we regularly work with clients on what an effective ambassadors program might look like in their context, and off support and best practices for getting a program off the ground.
The CSCCE training team took to the virtual road in mid-March to work with the current cohort of eLife Ambassadors. In two, 90-minute sessions tailored to the eLife Ambassadors program, Lou Woodley and Camille Santistevan are sharing best practices and actionable tactics for STEM community engagement.
About the eLife Ambassadors
The eLife Ambassadors program was created to “enable early-stage researchers to build lasting support networks and to help them innovate solutions and work together to overcome the many barriers and issues that their research communities face.” [See the current call for applications for next year’s program].
On 3 March 2022, CSCCE Director Lou Woodley gave an invited talk for the Code for Science & Society Digital Infrastructure Incubator about best practices when engaging volunteer labor. Her 60-minute session included opportunities for participants to reflect on their own work with community volunteers, and how they might refine the support they offer to them in the future.
With so many community managers in STEM looking to mobilize community members in a volunteer capacity, we thought we’d share an overview of Lou’s “5 guiding questions” for supporting unpaid contributions.
Our October call focused on the role of community champions in creating engaged, welcoming, and productive communities. This post includes a summary of the call, as well as video clips of presentations from Vanessa Fairhurst (Crossref Ambassadors program), Iratxe Puebla (ASAPbio Fellows program), and Ailís O’Carroll (eLife Community Ambassadors program).
Our next call will take place on 17 November 2021 at 4pm UTC / 11am EST (note: upcoming daylight savings time changes may affect the time of this call in your region). We’ll be focusing on community governance models. iCal | Google Calendar
This month, we’re considering the role of community champions (also known as community ambassadors or, sometimes, fellows) in successful community management, and how community champions programs can intentionally work with emergent leaders to meet the needs of a community or organization.
Join us for our monthly community call on Wednesday, 20 October at 3pm UTC / 11am EDT to learn more about champions and some of the programs that already exist – or are being planned – within the STEM ecosystem. [Add to iCal or Google Calendar]
Our October call will focus on the role of community champions and how community managers can support and empower them through intentional programming. Image credit: CSCCE
Our latest guidebook explores the importance of supporting and encouraging the work of community champions, emergent leaders who take on additional roles within a community to ensure its success. The guidebook builds on our Community Participation Model, which describes how community members engage with community programming and the ways community managers can design activities and events that meet members where they are. It forms part two in a growing series of foundational resources, with more to come later this year.
What is a community champion?
We define a community champion as:
An emergent leadership role within a community in which a community member takes on more responsibility for the success, sustainability, and/or running of the community.
The rationale for working groups and special interest groups
Why might a community decide to establish working groups and/or special interest groups? In an earlier post we discussed community-level programming – activities that are general enough that they are designed to be of interest and value to all members and to create opportunities to get to know one another and identify commonalities. However, within any large enough community, there will also be differentiation into sub-groups who want to focus more deeply on a specific topic – perhaps as an area of professional development or something that supplements a project they need to deliver in their own community role. This differentiation into sub-groups also creates opportunities for emerging leaders within a community – those who are highly engaged and wish to take on more responsibility for advancing the overall mission of the community. It’s this combination of scaling, through the activities and empowerment of these emergent leaders, and dedicated group work that greatly enhances the ability of any community to make progress towards its overall mission. For these activities to be successful, community management is nonetheless needed to support emergent leaders and their groups in their activities.
This week we’re launching a new CSCCE working group – for any STEM community managers planning or supporting community champions programs.
What are community champions programs?
As a community manager, chances are you spend a significant amount of your time operating at the “whole community” level – devising shared programming such as community calls and also creating newsletters and other reinforcing communications to keep the group informed and aligned around the various programming and activities.
While that community-level alignment is crucially important, a community moves forward its mission when members are empowered to take on emergent leadership roles – which enables the community to grow, become more sustainable, and to advance specific projects together via working groups and other smaller-group activities. In the CSCCE Community Participation Model (see image below) we refer to this mode of member engagement as the CHAMPION mode – and we’re working to develop our own champion infrastructure as well as working with other communities such as The Carpentries to develop theirs.
This post summarizes the report of the “Scientific Advocacy/Ambassador Programs Survey” by the 2017 Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP) Advocacy Ninjas project team (Melanie Binder, Heidi Laješić, Stephanie O’Donnell, Allen Pope, Gabrielle Rabinowitz, and Rosanna Volchok – with help from CSCCE Director Lou Woodley and former staff member, Rebecca Aicher) and was contributed by the authors.
Editorial note: Since the Advocacy Ninjas did their work and wrote up their report, we refined and published CSCCE’s Community Participation Model. In it, we describe a CHAMPION mode of participation, in which a community member is motivated to take on more responsibility for the success, sustainability, and/or running of the community. This might look like advocating for the community on social media, running a working group or local chapter, or taking the lead in creating and maintaining documentation to support the community. Champion programs, therefore, formalize or promote these activities, and offer recognition and training for members who participate. They empower emergent leaders, create nodes of trust within the community, and support myriad community needs and goals. Visit our new resource page for more.
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