Module 1

Why communicate with non-scientists, and why me?
May 6-7, 2021 9:00AM – 12:00PM (PST)

In this module, we’ll explore the importance of contributing to public discourse as scientific experts. Although the power of traditional news media is diminishing, its attempts to cover complex social, economic and environmental issues remain critically important as a counter to rampantly spread misinformation and the corresponding erosion of public trust. At the same time, the loss of journalists with field-specific training means that scientists declining to share their insights are often abdicating the field to non-experts – as, indeed, the past year has demonstrated with deadly consequences. Shari Graydon of Informed Opinions will provide context about news versus commentary and facilitate a discussion about the opportunities and challenges for scientists engaging with media and soliciting feedback from participants about their perceptions and experiences.

In any communication, it is essential that scientists are aware of diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in, for example, the language that we use and the media sources that we agree to engage with.  To this end, day two of this module will be focussed on diversity awareness training.  Under the leadership of Cheryl Kristiansen, diversity awareness trainer at the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology, participants will learn how unconscious bias works, and how to address it on a person, team, and organisational level.


Day One:

Interactive workshop with Shari Graydon (90 minutes) 

If not you, who? The current news media context and critical role played by independent experts able to share genuinely informed opinions to enhance public understanding and democratic decision-making.

Follow-up discussion with a panel of applied mathematicians (90 minutes)  

Panelists: Prof. Mark Lewis (Canada Research Chair in Mathematical Biology, U of A), Prof. Caroline Colijn (Simon Fraser University), Prof. Péter K. Molnár (U of T), Prof. Sarah P. Otto (UBC)

Topics: The scientists’ role: ivory tower, advocate, or honest broker

Day Two:

Interactive workshop with Cheryl Kristiansen (3 hours)

Diversity awareness training – understanding unconscious bias and addressing bias on a personal, team and organizational level.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand the need for scientific experts​ in the context of current trends in public discourse 
  2. ​ Become more attentive to news versus commentary and better understand the opportunities and challenges for scientists engaging with media.
  3. Become more aware of diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in relation to science communication. 
  4. Understand how unconscious bias works and how to address it on a personal, team, and organizational level.​

Cheryl Kristiansen

Cheryl brings diverse expertise in project management, engineering innovation and leading transformative change in STEM.  She has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, hands-on research experience in alternate fuels engine technology, and senior leadership success in the oil and gas sector.  Cheryl has worked in a variety of cultures and organizational models with strategic agility, has effectively managed international engineering projects with multiple stakeholders, led diverse sales teams and created marketing strategies to deliver financial growth.

As Managing Director of the Mitchell Odyssey Foundation, Cheryl developed a network of schools across BC with innovative programs to inspire high school students to pursue careers in STEM.  Cheryl is a certified facilitator and created the “Wild About Science” Odyssey Symposium for educators in BC. She has delivered a variety of training across Canada, including SCWIST Diversity by Design workshops at post-secondary institutions, industry conferences and STEM organizations. As a WinSETT Facilitator, Cheryl delivers seminars on Leading Change, Unconscious Bias, Micro-Aggressions and Allyship; and she is part of the Engendering SUCCESS in STEM Consortium, co-delivering Project RISE workshops to create a culture of inclusive collaboration. 

As Project Manager at SCWIST – Cheryl created the MakePossible mentoring network to advance diversity in STEM.  In the  Make DIVERSITY Possible” Program, she works with STEM companies to attract diverse talent and build inclusive workplace cultures where everyone thrives. She now leads the SCALE project to improve organizational effectiveness, develop partnerships and collective advocacy to advance diversity in STEM. 

Cheryl is passionate about connecting and collaborating with others to create solutions, with a strong focus on continuous improvement and the belief that diversity drives innovation!

%d bloggers like this: