The Rita Allen Foundation and WGBH Boston are pleased to announce the Rita Allen Fellowship for Science Communication. This new program will provide a year's support for one fellow to study the field of science media, experiment with successful media formats and work to expand science literacy in the general public.  The fellow will embed at WGBH, one of the pre-eminent science media producers in the US and home to the flagship public media science series NOVA.

The goal of the Rita Allen Fellowship is to identify ways to expand how and to whom science news and information are communicated.  It also aims to discover new information by experimenting with best practices that will provide all science media producers with tools to reach new audiences more effectively. 

Elizabeth Christopherson, President of the Rita Allen Foundation, says, "The Rita Allen Fellowship for Science Communication will explore the state of science journalism today and propose new and innovative approaches for improving popular understanding of science."  She calls science literacy "a cornerstone of our democracy."

More information about the Rita Allen Fellowship for Science Communication will be added here over the next few months, or you can contact program coordinator Judith Vecchione.

To apply, click here.

ABOUT THE FELLOWSHIP
The Rita Allen fellow will investigate, first hand, the state of science communication in popular media, examining audiences, approaches and formats.  As examples, the fellow might look to answer these questions:

  • What audiences should be targeted in science communication efforts to create greatest short-term and long-term impact?
     
  • What new content approaches are most effective for engagement and for improving science literacy among specific audience sub-groups or general audiences?
     
  • Which formats have the best potential for engagement, again thinking of target audiences as well as broad public audiences?

The research will include looking at trends and technologies, and also at how people are finding their own ways to make science media.  Details of the fellow's research will be finalized based on the fellow's interest and skills, with the input and collaboration of the Fellowship staff at WGBH.

As the fellow develops and answers the research questions, he/she will also have the opportunity to share this new knowledge with the public.  The fellow will report out quarterly on findings to both the Fellowship program and the public via WGBH science media outlets (such as NOVA, the NOVA Next blog, radio programs like PRI’s The World, and online and social media platforms), as well as other distribution channels outside of WGBH.

The Fellow will receive a stipend of $82,000 plus benefits, for the year. He/she will live in or move to the Boston area and have office space at WGBH's studios.

ABOUT THE RITA ALLEN FOUNDATION

The Rita Allen Foundation invests in transformative ideas in their earliest stages to leverage their growth and promote breakthrough solutions to significant problems. It enables early-career biomedical scholars to do pioneering research, seeds innovative approaches to fostering informed civic engagement, and develops knowledge and networks to build the effectiveness of the philanthropic sector. Throughout its work, the Foundation embraces collaboration, creativity, learning and leadership.

ABOUT WGBH BOSTON

The WGBH Educational Foundation is proud to be PBS’s single largest producer of broadcast and online programming, creating such award- winning favorites as Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, American Experience, Curious George, Arthur, and Design Squad. WGBH is the number-one producer of content for PBS’s web site, PBS.org, which is one of the most trafficked dot-org web sites in the world.

CALENDAR

WHY SCIENCE COMMUNICATION?
In today's world, general knowledge about science and its role in our daily lives is critical, relevant and necessary. And yet …

  • A 2012 National Science Foundation survey revealed that nearly half the people taking a multiple-choice test couldn’t say how long it takes for Earth to orbit the sun.
     
  • Forty-two percent of Americans do not believe humans evolved from earlier species of animals.
     
  • One in four Americans do not believe climate change is real.

The essentials of science are not being communicated effectively to a popular audience, even though science literacy – knowledge of the scientific method and the role science plays in understanding natural processes – is an essential part of the citizen’s toolkit for modern life.

ELIGIBILITY
Candidates for the Fellowship will be early-to-mid-career science media producers, journalists or working scientists with a commitment to communication about science. The selected fellow will live in or move to Boston, and will have an office and work closely with the NOVA Science production unit, including the NOVA Next digital platform that publishes a highly successful science blog and short-form videos, and creates immersive videos and other opportunities to experiment in a variety of media and formats.

In addition, the fellow may work with:

  • WGBH's children’s programs like Curious George that have a strong science focus
     
  • other STEM-focused projects for PBS LearningMedia, the #1 educational media brand available for free to teachers across the country
     
  • science radio programs like Innovation Hub with Kara Miller
     
  • SMASH, the biennial Science Media Awards and Summit in the Hub, which WGBH co-produces with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.

The Fellow may also work outside of WGBH, connecting with Boston’s many hubs of science inquiry and innovation.

“The range of science media produced here at WGBH and in Boston means the Rita Allen fellow will have access to many different aspects of science communication," says John Bredar, Vice President for National Programs at WGBH. "We expect the fellow will dive in, experiment, learn, and publish information that promotes all our efforts, nationwide, to expand the ranks of the 'science savvy.' ” 

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