2023 Request for Proposals

The University of Rhode Island’s Metcalf Institute and the symposium planning committee invite you to submit proposals to participate in the 2023 Inclusive SciComm Symposium, which will be held in-person at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, RI, USA, October 19-21, 2023. Additional virtual sessions will be held September 29, October 6, October 13, and November 3, 2023. 

Submit your proposal here! Co-presenters, please submit demographic info here

You can review the questions on the ISCS23 Proposal Submission Form as a PDF ahead of time. (Please note, this PDF is only to allow review of the questions; it is not intended to be filled out.) If you need assistance submitting a proposal, contact the Metcalf Institute team at metcalf@uri.edu.

Read more about the 2023 symposium here. 


  • Proposal deadline: June 16, 2023
  • Registration opens: Summer 2023
  • Proposal notifications by: August 1, 2023
  • Asynchronous material (videos, etc.) submitted: September 15, 2023

Symposium Session Formats
Proposers may choose from a variety of symposium formats:

  • Community-building or networking activity: This is a live, virtual or in-person session that might include conversations designed for a specific sub-audience at the symposium (e.g., people working with youth) or a session designed to build connections across sectors. 
  • Asynchronous video presentations: These are short (5-10 minutes), pre-recorded videos that will be posted publicly on youtube.com/metcalfinstitute. Specific guidance regarding video specifications will be provided. 
  • Poster: Posters will be presented in a live, in-person session during the symposium. There may also be Zoom-based poster sessions, depending on interest.
  • Panel discussion with Q&A: This is a live, virtual or in-person session with 2-4 presenters, does not include breakout groups.
  • Roundtable discussion: This is a live, virtual or in-person, moderated discussion on a specified topic.
  • Single presentation with Q&A: This is a live, virtual or in-person presentation at the symposium. Organizers may combine related presentations into a single (virtual or in-person) panel. 
  • Workshop: This is a live, virtual or in-person session that includes interactivity and, potentially, a specific output. 
  • Another format: Creative, outside of the box ideas are strongly encouraged! 

The symposium will provide ASL interpreters for the keynote lectures and auto-captioning at all events. Additional accommodations will be provided as requested by participants. Please make requests for any additional accessibility needs in your proposal and/or when registering to attend.

All videos and slides, whether posted for asynchronous viewing (deadline for submission of these materials is September 15) or presented live during the symposium, must be provided with captions by session speakers. Support and user guides will be available to help presenters with captioning.

Additional Information
You may only submit 1 proposal in which you serve as the session lead, and you may serve as a collaborator or co-presenter in 1 additional proposal. NOTE: the proposal only captures biographic and demographic information for the person submitting proposal information. Use this link to submit information (bios and demographics) about additional session presenters.

Proposals must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. ET on June 16, 2023. You will be notified about the status of your proposal by August 1, 2023.

If you would like assistance completing your proposal submission, or have questions about the proposal itself, please contact metcalf@uri.edu.


2023 Inclusive SciComm Symposium Themes

Theme 1: Language Matters

Language is a crucial, yet often overlooked, tool for promoting access to and inclusion in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine) fields. In order to highlight the importance of language, this theme will explore two primary facets: multilingual science communication and more intentional approaches to word choice. Multilingualism increases the diversity of perspectives that participate in science, and enriches scientific discourse through the inclusion of knowledge that is only available in one or a subset of languages. Yet, languages other than English are underused in public engagement. Moreover, much of science communication assumes that all participants are primary English speakers, and has the potential to exclude individuals and communities. Additionally, commonly used scientific terms have the potential to cause unintended harm to marginalized communities and reinforce oppressive systems, discriminatory tropes, and offensive terms. The use of such terms can create exclusionary environments that prevent marginalized individuals from fully and safely participating in STEMM education and research. It is therefore critical for scientists and science communicators to continually reflect on the impacts of language on engagement, research, mentoring, collaboration, and teaching.

Sessions within this theme might address, but are not limited to: The importance of interrogating terms used in STEMM disciplines; multilingual science communication; strategies for rethinking and replacing harmful scientific terminology; approaches for adopting inclusive language practices at various scales (e.g., individual, institutional, community); the importance of multilingual approaches to research (i.e., the production of science, not only the communication of science); countering ableist language, or collectively navigating understanding of terms that have different colloquial and technical uses.

Theme 2: Promising Practices for Measuring Success and Outcomes

Science communication can have a wide range of societal benefits, but it can be hard to quantify those benefits or the effectiveness of specific approaches. Yet, without evaluation, we cannot identify successful practices or make informed decisions on how to improve or change the way we communicate. This is further complicated by typical expectations, which are often dependent on traditional measures of success and may be misaligned with project goals or more expansive, equitable definitions of success. Often, evaluation of science communication effectiveness focuses on metrics such as numbers of participants or post-event surveys that measure items like self-efficacy. These are relatively easy and inexpensive ways to measure impact, but they don’t demonstrate how engagement translates to, for example, relationships or action. Many science communicators lack either the resources to invest in more time-consuming and costly evaluation approaches or examples of a more substantive approach to measuring outcomes. Sometimes the easier road is taken because it is what supervisors or funders have requested. This theme will interrogate how we define and evaluate “success” in achieving effective and inclusive science communication, and how we can apply new approaches to evaluation to gain a more contextualized and equitable understanding of our impacts.

Sessions within this theme might address, but are not limited to: novel and/or collaborative approaches for assessing impacts of science communication; how to identify and evaluate goals; what constitutes a “successful” outcome; engaging communities in identifying how their priorities and values are reflected in evaluation; building capacity within communities to lead or co-develop evaluation; how funders are rethinking their evaluation criteria; how to convince gatekeepers (supervisors, funders, etc.) that different approaches to evaluation could be more meaningful; or new measures to understand societal impacts of science communication beyond institutional or program-specific impacts. 

Theme 3: Building Trust and Relationships

It takes time, care, and intention to build and sustain relationships based on trust. For many people, historical and present-day inequities and injustices in scientific research raise concerns, hesitations, or outright contempt for STEMM. In addition, hyper-partisan public discourse, as well as prevalence of mis- and disinformation, complicates efforts to engage in conversations about STEMM topics. These challenges reflect the need for science communication practitioners and researchers to recognize potentially exploitative or extractive interactions and proactively build trust and relationships. In addition, building trust can lead to adoption of new, beneficial behaviors. This theme will explore the many ways we can build relationships and support communities with science communication practice, research, and training, to avoid extractive or tokenizing “outreach.”

Sessions within this theme might address, but are not limited to: Strategies for building and sustaining trust; strategies for authentic and reciprocal engagement; effective practices for equitable community engagement; inclusive approaches for addressing misinformation; models for science communication training that advances these skill sets; methods of science communication and engagement that connect with communities or populations who do not regularly consume STEMM content; and how funders can facilitate trust- and relationship-building in science communication.