Message from the Interim Associate Provost

Laurie Van Egeren, Interim Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement

Laurie Van Egeren, Interim Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement

Resuming Broader Impacts Activities

Dear Engaged Spartans and our partners in Michigan and around the world,

The beginning of the Fall 2021 semester found us attempting to resume some level of "normalcy" in our professional and personal lives. This includes many faculty and staff colleagues whose research, outreach, and engagement activities faced disruption over the previous 20 months. As this work has begun to move forward again, we have discussed at length how to engage safely and respectfully with our community partners and how to acknowledge the tremendous disruption and loss that they have experienced.

Some of these partners collaborate with our faculty to conduct what the National Science Foundation (NSF) terms "broader impacts" (BI) activities. NSF requires each research proposal to address how the work will advance beneficial societal impacts. These impacts may be framed in a variety of ways and address an almost limitless array of societal concerns – and often, broader impacts activities are framed as engagement with the public enacted by advancing scientific knowledge in the community, promoting science and STEM in K-12 students, and providing opportunities for community members to participate in citizen science projects. All of these approaches are most effective when developed and implemented in partnership with communities, and all have been affected by the pandemic.

Returning to in-person activities means new possibilities for publicly engaged work. University Outreach and Engagement (UOE) hosts the annual MSU Science Festival, which provides wonderful BI opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to share scientific discoveries and practices with public and school audiences. Learn more about the Science Festival at: sciencefestival.msu.edu!

UOE also functions as a hub for Broader Impacts information, resources, and consulting. If you are writing a research proposal and wondering how to address BI, how BI statements are reviewed, what "counts" as BI activities, or just want to brainstorm with someone about how to create a BI plan, UOE can help with that. Here are just a few useful resources:

Lastly, UOE is hosting a Broader Impacts Workshop Series in the spring. Check out the sessions.

As this semester closes, we at University Outreach and Engagement want to express our gratitude to faculty, staff, and student researchers and their community partners for their intentional and mutually supportive commitment to address the issues of our society.

  • Written by Laurie Van Egeren, Interim Associate Provost, Office of University Outreach and Engagement

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