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The Broader Impacts Group (BIG) is a student-run organization based at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Mission: To provide graduate students with avenues, opportunities, and a network to extend the impact of their research and scientific expertise to the realms of policy, environmental sustainability, science communication, and education.

Why: BIG believes that scientists serve a fundamental role in society to advance and further knowledge and innovation. The ability of scientists to communicate and apply that knowledge to others is critical for a healthy relationship between the realms of research, policy, government, education, and public welfare. Scientists should be able to accurately convey their findings to government agencies, media outlets, and the general public in way that promotes the public understanding of current research and encourages application of that research to the increased wellbeing of people and our planet.

Conveying both a meaningful and objective message requires careful thought in how that message is articulated. Therefore, there is a need amongst graduate students for training and experience in the public communication of science. There are numerous communications resources available at WHOI and MIT that are not often utilized by graduate students. The Broader Impacts Group (BIG) will make these resources more readily accessible to graduate students in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program.

How: BIG operates as a student-led organization within the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography. The current President(s) will be responsible for developing and organizing events with the help of the student body and institutional offices. The leadership of BIG organizes events based on the interests and demands of the current study body. We have previously organized networking mixers, science communication workshops, small scale research symposia, and matched current students with local public school educators for classroom outreach activities.

BIG has also developed a network of scientists, educators, and policymakers committed to bridging the gaps between their respective realms. This network is accessed through an extensive list-serve moderated by BIG leadership; other social media based accounts (Facebook, Twitter) are also used.

Lastly, BIG aims to provide graduate students with easy access to information that will help them develop science communication skills, understand the intersection of science and policy, how to apply their research to other areas, as well as explore careers outside of the traditional academia track. 

Last updated: January 17, 2017

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