Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals

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Course overview

Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals is an eight-week course designed to offer new or existing community managers core frameworks and vocabulary to describe their community’s purpose, refine or create strategic engagement programming to match community member goals, and describe their own roles and value as a community manager in STEM. 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.

While we have yet to decide on what a future version of our Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP) might look like, Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals will be a prerequisite. You may also find that completing this course gives you a stronger foundation for other CSCCE modular online trainings, such as Nurturing and Stewarding Engaged Online Communities, although it is not currently required.

CEF is offered on a quarterly basis and registration will soon open for the winter 2022 session. You can pre-register for CEF (as well as other CSCCE courses) here and email us at with any questions.

Course structure

Each week, participants will meet virtually (using Zoom) for a 90 minute lesson and a 90 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 4.5 hours per week

Graduation from the course requires attendance at a minimum of 11 of the 12 classes, as well as social hour.


This course is facilitated by:

  • Camille Santistevan, CSCCE Lead Trainer
  • Lou Woodley, CSCCE Director

Topics covered


Before the course begins, we host a virtual social hour for all participants to find out about their instructors and fellow learners.

Week two: 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 three: 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 four: 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. Discussion will include the challenges of distributing power.

Week five: COMMUNITY PROGRAMMING and scaffolded participation

Via a series of worksheets, we’ll explore current and planned content and programming in our communities. We’ll introduce the concept of scaffolded participation in creating supportive, responsive and multi-modal programming that empowers members to participate.


Course participants can attend two optional sessions at the same time as the regular lessons and Co-Labs to share out progress so far, work through structured examples, and catch up on completing their course worksheets.

WEEK SEVEN: Community member participation

Using the CSCCE Community Participation Model, 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 EIGHT: Community lifecycle models AND GRADUATION

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.

Included in the course fee

The benefits of taking Community Engagement Fundamentals include: 

  • A pre-course social hour to get to know members of your cohort.
  • Group activities that match you with other community managers who are working in similar contexts. 
  • Access to the course facilitators for 15 minutes before and after each lesson.
  • A mid-course reading week with optional sessions for asking questions, instructor feedback, and co-working time. 
  • A dedicated cohort channel in CSCCE’s Slack community of practice where you can share ideas and resources with your classmates and facilitators.
  • Custom worksheets and exercises that help you apply key community management frameworks to your specific context.
  • A template to create a final graduation poster summarizing what you learned during the course that you can share with your team and/or supervisor.

Additional office hours

For an additional fee, we can also provide individual office hours during the course. These include:

  • Review of your homework / worksheets. 
  • An hour of one-to-one discussion with a member of CSCCE staff each week (6 weeks) to explore questions about the course and your answers to the activities. 
  • A weekly tip-sheet for your supervisor to help to bridge the gap between what you’re learning during the course and implementation within your organization. This includes a short summary of the topics covered and suggested questions for discussion together. 

Places for office hours are limited so please contact us early if you’d like to add this to your course participation:  


100% of course participants say they are extremely likely (91%) or likely (9%) to recommend our courses to their colleagues. Here’s what some of them have to say about Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals:

THANK YOU! This course has been extremely valuable for me. Now I feel more empowered to call myself Community Manager and I have the right tools and frameworks to bring my community closer to their goals. Moreover, I would love to keep in touch with CSCCE community of practice and start to contribute as well.

CEF21F Participant

It was a very enjoyable, interesting and inspiring course! It also helps to fill a gap in training opportunities in scientific community management (which, I now realise, is a part of many different roles!). Thank you Lou, Camille, and the CSCCE team for organising such a great course.

CEF21F Participant

Incredibly professional in every aspect; I couldn’t think of one detail in structure or facilitation that wasn’t perfect!

CEF20F Participant

Amazing effort by the course leaders to create such an IRL feeling in an online course!

CEF20F Participant

Upcoming session

CEF is offered on a quarterly basis. The upcoming session is sold out, but you can pre-register for future sessions here.

#CEF22W will start on Friday, 21 January 2022 and runs Tuesdays and Fridays at 5 pm UTC / 12 pm EST until Friday, 11 March 2022. The key dates are:

  • Pre-course social: Friday, 21 January at 5 pm – 6 pm UTC / 12 pm – 1 pm EST. During this session you will start to get to know your coursemates. 
  • Lessons: Tuesdays at 5 pm – 6:30 pm UTC / 12 pm – 1:30 pm EST as follows: 25 January, 1, 8, 15, 22* February, 1, 8 March
  • Co-Labs: Fridays at 5 pm  – 6:30 pm UTC / 12 pm – 1:30 pm EST as follows: 28 January, 4, 11, 18, 25* February, 4 March
  • Graduation: Friday, 11 March at 5 pm – 7 pm UTC / 12 pm – 2 pm EST – an extended 2-hour session to include a 30-minute poster viewing session followed by poster presentations

*Reading Week: 22 and 25 February are optional sessions for sharing, discussing and co-working.

Past sessions


#CEF21F, our fifth Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals cohort, finished on Thursday, 4 November. The course ran on Mondays and Thursdays at 12pm Eastern, as follows:

  • Monday Lessons (12-1:30pm US Eastern Time): 27 September, 4,11,18, and 25 October, and 1 November
  • Thursday Co-Labs (12-1pm US Eastern Time): 30 September, 7, 14, 21, and 28 October, and 4 November 


#CEF21S, our fourth Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals cohort, finished on Friday, 16 July. The course ran on Tuesdays and Fridays at 12pm Eastern, as follows:

  • Tuesday Lessons (12-1:30pm US Eastern Time): 1, 8, 15, 22 June, 6, 13 July
  • Friday Co-Labs (12-1pm US Eastern Time): 4, 11, 18, 25 June, 9, 16 July 


#CEF21W2, our third Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals cohort, finished on Friday, 19 February. The course ran on Mondays and Thursdays at 2pm Eastern, as follows:

  • Monday Lessons (2 – 3:30pm US Eastern Time): 22 February, 1,  8, 15, 22, 29 March
  • Thursday Co-Labs (2 – 3:00pm US Eastern Time): 25 February, 4, 11, 18, 25 March, 1 April


#CEF21W, our second Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals cohort, finished on Friday, 19 February. The course ran on Tuesdays and Fridays, beginning with an optional class social on Friday 8 January 2021 at 12pm Eastern, 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


Our Fall pilot of Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals (#CEF20F) wrapped up on Thursday, 3 December. The course took place on Mondays and Thursdays starting on Monday, 26 October 2020 at 2pm Eastern and ran as follows:

  • Monday Lessons (2 – 3:30pm US Eastern Time): 26 October, 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 November
  • Thursday Co-Labs (2 – 3:00pm US Eastern Time): 29 October, 5, 12, 19, (Weds) 25 November and 3 December.