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Identity-based sorting in our society, paired with a lack of motivation and sometimes inability to meaningfully connect with conservative and/or religious audiences is a challenge for the scientific community. Moreover, surveys show that significant proportions of the U.S. public are not only concerned about emerging science conflicting with moral and religious views, but also hold misperceptions about “settled” scientific facts, such as climate change, evolution, or the Big Bang. The inability of science to meaningfully connect with religious or more conservative audiences has detrimental, real-world consequences.

The proposed JTF Civic Science Fellow would directly tackle these challenges. The fellow would either be a postdoctoral researcher or a staff researcher, depending on the finalist’s career trajectory, examining how we can use the science of science communication to develop more effective strategies for communities of practice to connect with conservative and/or religious audiences.

The fellow will work directly with many of the stakeholder communities who see themselves as disconnected from or even at odds with the values of science. Issues on which such disconnects occur include tissue engineering, new genome editing techniques, and climate change, to name a few. Working with underserved audiences (religious communities, conservative groups, etc.) whose views are traditionally underrepresented in the scientific community aligns the new fellowship with the underlying work of the larger Civic Science Initiative.

Toward that end, the fellow position is designed as a central node nested within the bench sciences, social sciences, and relevant communities of practice, with the goal of (a) conducting, (b) coordinating, and (c) helping to translate into action research on addressing the challenges of engaging conservative audiences in science.