Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals

Course overview

Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals is designed to offer new or existing community managers core frameworks and vocabulary to describe their community and their role within it. While the content is designed for any level of learner, it should not be thought of as a “beginner” course. Rather, it is intended to create common ground so that scientific community managers can converse across disciplines, more efficiently learn from one another, and build successful engagement strategies that are grounded in research.

We require anyone applying for our Community Engagement Fellowship Program (CEFP) to first take this course. You may also find that completing this course gives you a stronger foundation for other CSCCE modular online trainings, Planning and Delivering Successful Virtual Meetings and Events and Nurturing and Stewarding Engaged Online Communities, although it is not required.

Course structure

Each week, participants will meet virtually (using Zoom) for a 90 minute lesson and a 60 minute Co-Lab. While lessons will involve structured presentations and activities, Co-Lab time is for discussion, reporting out, and seeking feedback from instructors and fellow learners.

Each week will also include approximately 90 minutes of homework, for a total time commitment of 4 hours per week

Successful completion of the course requires attendance at 11 out of 12 of the online sessions, at a minimum, as well as completion of homework assignments.


  • Camille Santistevan, CSCCE Lead Trainer and Curriculum Development Specialist
  • Lou Woodley, CSCCE Director

Topics covered

Week one: What is community?

Participants will gain an understanding of the different types of community common in STEM fields and will define their own community in these terms, gaining increased clarity on the reach of their activities.

Week two: Exploring community engagement roles

Consider the skills needed to excel in the role of a community manager, and use CSCCE’s skills wheel to assess where you or your team might need to expand your repertoire. We’ll also explore different leadership models, empowering participants to recognize that community managers represent a new kind of network-centric leadership.

Week three: Purpose and people

With a stronger understanding of the nature of community, participants will work to identify the different stakeholder or member relationships within their community and the desired goals for each relationship. 

Week four: Community member participation

Using the CSCCE Community Participation Framework, participants will analyze the current programming in their own communities – identifying gaps and how to better align programming with desired outcomes. They’ll also acquire core vocabulary for describing different aspects of their community programming.

Week five: Communication ecosystems and scaffolded participation

We’ll introduce the concepts of communication ecosystems and scaffolded participation in creating supportive, responsive and multi-modal programming that empowers members to participate. Discussion will include the challenges of distributing power. 

Week six: Community lifecycle models and group-level engagement 

Community lifecycle models can inform the type of programming appropriate for your community, as well as how your role as a community manager changes. We’ll explore several models and discuss the implications of each – for programming, team planning and evaluation.

Upcoming session

Course Dates: The next offering of this course (#CEF21W) will take place on Tuesdays and Fridays starting on Tuesday, 12 January 2021 and running as follows: 

  • Tuesday Lessons (12 – 1:30pm US Eastern Time): 12, 19, 26 January, 2, 9, 16 February 
  • Friday Co-Labs (12 – 1:00pm US Eastern Time): 15, 22, 29 January, 5, 12, 19 February

Pricing: This course is priced at $750 per participant. Please get in touch if you require financial aid in order to be able to take part.

Registration is now open, and we work on a first come first served basis. Enrollment limited to 20.

Registration deadline: 16 December 2020

Ongoing session

Our Fall pilot of Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals (#CEF20F) is currently in session. The course is taking place on Mondays and Thursdays starting on Monday, 26 October 2020 at 2pm Eastern (7pm UTC) and running as follows:

  • Monday Lessons (2 – 3.30pm US Eastern Time): 26 October, 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 November
  • Thursday Co-Labs (9.30 – 10.30 US Eastern Time): 29 October, 5, 12, 19, (Weds) 25 November and 3 December.