Communicating, Leadership, and Expectations for Graduate School

August 24, 2011

Recently Cornelia Dean at the New York Times discussed a variety of ways that scientists are getting together to learn how to talk science to the general public (the article may be behind a firewall, but you should be able to access this via your home institution’s library). Few things are more important nowadays than raising the level of discussion on matters scientific; communicating in an engaging way just what makes science so important and so fun. We’ll hav e more to talk about this presently.

Halfway through the article I came across a reference to the Leopold Leadership Program headed by ecologist, and former president of the Ecology Society of America, Jane Lubchenco. This is indeed a pretty cool group, that  (as their masthead proclaims) advances environmental decision-making by providing academic researchers with the skills and connections needed to be effective leaders and communicators. By this time I was all gung-ho and ready to apply. Then I read that this yea, the program is bringing back all of their previous fellows to confab. Ah well. There is always next year. Keep an eye out for this group, people.

Which is just a long preamble to the fact that while perusing that site, I found a great resource page full of white papers on how to teach climate change, how to talk to policy makers, books by prior Leopold fellows, and one, that I want you to download right now: Graduate Student Expectations and Milestones. This is one of those essays that has been passed down through cohorts of grad students and across labs. Like Huey’s and Stearns’s advice to grad students from the “Life Management” section of GTDA’s blogroll (which yes, dear readers, needs an upgrade), and like an earlier post from another colleague’s lab Eight reality checks for graduate students, it summarizes a lot of useful experience about the graduate student’s life in a short space.

Read Graduate Student Expectations and Milestones and show it to your labmates. Better yet, ask your advisor what she thinks about it. It could open your eyes; it could save you a lot of time and trouble.