Scientist-Community Partnerships

Building Successful Collaborations

Published Apr 12, 2016

By partnering with communities, scientists have a tremendous opportunity to advance democracy by improving community access to technical information. Scientist-community partnerships can help level the playing field for communities that are being shut out of important policy discussions, in part because they lack access to scientific information or the ability to evaluate and interpret technical findings. And the communities that have the least access to scientific and technical expertise are often those that most directly bear the burden of environmental and health hazards. 

Recognizing the need for effective scientist-community partnerships, the Union of Concerned Scientists is taking an active role in fostering these collaborations through the Center for Science and Democracy. In September 2015, we convened a forum, Community Connections: Bringing Together Scientists and Local Voices, bringing together a diverse audience of community groups, science organizations, and other interested stakeholders to explore ways to overcome barriers to collaboration and make community/scientist partnerships more effective.

Since the forum, we've continued working with community groups and scientists to learn more about how to build successful partnerships. The resources below reflect this learning process. We hope they can help scientists contribute to meaningful change in their communities.

A toolkit for successful partnerships

To help scientists engage more effectively in their communities, we've put together a 16-page guide that explains some of the benefits and challenges of community partnerships and offers specific advice for finding partnership opportunities, building relationships with community groups, and overcoming barriers to successful collaboration.

Videos and webinars

UCS has produced a series of videos offering tips and insights for scientists interested in community partnerships:

Tools and resources on the web

Useful information from a variety of sources on building successful partnerships.

Related resources