Idea Bank: The Importance of Face-to-Face Conversation
Campaign puts the faces in face-to-face meetings.
What’s the great idea? Using real-world stories to bolster advocacy efforts
Who’s doing it? A coalition of groups led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science
What’s involved? AAAS was looking for a way to inject a human element into discussions with policymakers about the importance of face-to-face science conferences. “If you talk about the impact of science meetings, you’re going to get real wonky and real jargony, because that’s what the progress of science looks like,” says Josh Shiode, senior government relations officer at AAAS. ¶ So the group put a call out for members to submit stories about how attending a conference helped them advance in their career or advance science in some way. ¶ “We know that there are these stories out there of ways that interactions at scientific meetings go on to actually benefit not just scientists and technologists, but end up benefiting society as a whole,” he says. “A lot of those are kind of just a footnote to the story that people tell, but we want to try to spotlight the impact that these conferences have had.”
What are people saying? “All of the groups involved with this, and who’ve responded to the idea, have been uniformly positive about this tool for engaging their members,” Shiode says. “Engaging at the grassroots level is something that everybody is trying to do, and this is our attempt at this. I hope that it works, but I think the key point to it is that we’re putting a face to this nebulous issue that people don’t interact with all that much.”—Rob Stott