Campus Allies for Broader Dissemination


Not all Broader Impacts initiatives need to have a formal educational focus. Informal venues are also well-received.  In fact, NSF, for example, is very happy with thinking outside the box, and they want to have digital media that explain your work.  These can be useful generally, but also "content" for their on-line science news.  I detail below a number of outlets for "semi-professional" videos accessible from NSF to give you some ideas.

The UMA News Office would like to partner with you.  Eventually, they will ask PIs to budget $10-15K for a film, but while they're establishing themselves in the field, they will consider pro bono work.  

The contact is Ed Blaguszewski (, Director of UMA New Office.

Another avenue   --   Consider how scholars in the humanities and social sciences can help disseminate scientific and technical information.  Check it out!

A one-hour meeting with UMass historians in the spring pulled up four very feasible ideas that could (and should) be pursued. 
  • For example, the Public History Project led by Professor David Glassberg would like to branch out into science museums.
  • A philospher-historian is very interested in the history of science and has already designed and taught several Gen Ed courses on various scientific topics.  Is there something in your research that could strike a chord with Professor Larry Owens?
  • What about the history of agriculture in China--and its relationship to the modern sustainability movement? Ask History Professor Sigrid Schmalzer
  • Does Renaissance science feel out of date?  Professor Brian Ogilvie will help you find current relevance, maybe even to your work.

At the AAAS (Association for the Advancement of Sciences) meeting in February 2011, I got a poster suggesting an interpretive dance to bring your science to life.  And then they performed "DNA."  Go to Jenny Ross's website for Physics MTV clips her lab puts to together   These are on YouTube and are for fun--but ideas could easily be brought to the News Office and developed from there.

Consider a consultation with the Public Engagement Project in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.  Faculty from the Center for Public Policy & Administration, the Center for Research on Families, the Department of Sociology, and the Psychology of Peace & Violence Program in the Department of Psychology got together to help "Bring Research to the Public," their slogan.  This section of their mission statement, seems to me to capture one of the aims of broader impacts:

  • helps faculty members build their own networks of institutions and individuals who can apply their research findings, and it helps create institutional spaces for communication between academics and non-academics who do applied work in common areas of expertise 

One application so far has been in the area of bio-fuels to help the researchers craft and deliver their message so that it will reach policy makers.  Contact Director Professor Lee Badgett ( to explore the social impact of your research and ways to shape public opinion for the better.


A brief survey of science videos
There are lots of examples of science shorts. I think the most useful are  2 1/2 minutes, 4 minutes, or 10 minutes, although you can find longer.
Many are semi-professionally produced:
In a couple of clicks, I went from this general site with lots of examples,
to this.
The following "news" site also shows short videos produced by NSF, most in a "tv show" format:  some background video and voice over, some interviews and then clips of the research animal, robot etc.
(There are a lot of just talking, but I think we're less interested in those.)
Science Nation is also an NSF online magazine with about a video a week. 
Videos like these give us an idea of what NSF thinks will be useful.  Btw, in addition to the video, they usually supply a little code to help people embed them in their own presentations.
For scientist-made videos, I found this

International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge

There's a "winners" gallery with a category for Interactive Games and Non-interactive Media  is a 5-minute display of social networking, very visual and very interesting.

(In case you're interested, you can find the guidelines for the contest at its website.)

Then there's the lazy (but effective) way to find science videos --Go to You tube and enter "science videos online"

TED videos were a little longer (10 min), but they were DEFINITELY more interesting.  (Sheila Patek has a Ted video.  Do we know any other faculty on there?)

I started on one by Christopher de Charmes on MRI of the brain

and here's one on crows and learning and culture that was outstanding:

Science Hack  is supposed to be a pre-selected set of science videos, but I didn't find them more interesting than just going to Youtube.

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