“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
-Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston’s quote has always stuck with me. Certainly, the last few years of our collective existence seem to have provided many more questions than answers.
For Metcalf Institute, 2022 was a year of both questions and answers.
As you will see in our 2022 annual report, we invested significant resources this year in examining the long-range impacts of our training programs for both journalists and scientists.
With regard to our training for journalists, we found a wide range of significant, sustained impacts. With alumni participation in this study spanning the full 24 years of our training history, we learned that our alumni continue to apply key elements of our trainings to their work, leading to changes in their journalism practices and a greater appreciation for the importance of environmental news coverage. Metcalf Institute journalist alumni also connect their training to significant societal impacts that arose from their reporting and view the Institute’s training as a valuable professional credential.
We also learned that the Career Development Program, a training program for early-career researchers that we developed with the Rhode Island Consortium for Coastal Ecology Assessment, Innovation & Modeling (RI C-AIM), has positively influenced trainees, from clarifying their career development and science communication goals to shifting their science communication practices toward more strategic and inclusive approaches.
We were thrilled by the opportunity to conduct a long-term assessment of Metcalf’s impacts. Efforts like this require considerable effort and resources–and they are absolutely essential, not only for our own accountability and improvement, but also for the broader field of professional development for journalists and other science communicators. We hope to publish these two studies in 2023.
In addition to continuing to offer the programs that produce these timely impacts, we also launched the SciComm Identities Project, a new National Science Foundation-funded project, in collaboration with Michigan State University. You can read more about that and meet our 2023 Fellows here.
Another major aspect of our work related to our Impact Accelerator Fund. This Fund, launched by anonymous donors who committed a 1:3 match on gifts to the fund, is designed to scale up the reach of Metcalf Institute programs. The initiative allowed us to hire our first-ever dedicated development consultant via the URI Foundation & Alumni Engagement, and her work yielded a 4-fold return on investment in less than one year. We are grateful to all the donors and funders who have generously supported Metcalf Institute’s expansion efforts over the past year.
Finally, 2022 was a year of significant growth for Metcalf Institute. We added three new members to the team, including our first post-doctoral scholar, and we worked with a fantastic group of URI undergraduate and graduate students. We look forward to additional expansion in the coming year.
I hope you will take a few minutes to explore this year’s annual report. Don’t miss out on one of my favorite sections, the alumni updates! Metcalf Institute alumni continue to amaze us with the scope of their work, and we’re thrilled to be able to share some of it with you here.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and productive new year,