SCICOMM: Raising Our Voice for Science in Public Policy

“Clear and simple is not enough,” argues Rush Holt, former CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in this new 12-minute video from the Center for Environmental Filmmaking’s SciComm Media Lab at American University. “It has to be meaningful,” he says. “It has to communicate the science in a way that people feel they can take it in, not just understand it but embrace it and care about it, in other words believe that it is relevant. What scientists should be doing is not just simplifying their research, but rather enabling everybody else to think like a scientist, to think on the basis of evidence.”

The March for Science brought more than one million scientists out of their labs, offices and classrooms into the public eye at demonstrations around the world. “Science, Not Silence” was the rallying call for marchers who have seen their work ignored, defunded, misinterpreted, and censored, despite conclusive evidence that the consequences of inaction will be profound and irreversible. It’s being called a “war on science.” The rejection of scientific evidence by politicians and policy makers has created an historical turning point and a crucible for scientists. This video asks scientists to define the challenges of science communication practice, training and strategy.

  • Larry Kirkman
  • Larry Kirkman
  • Shannon Shikles
  • Shannon Shikles
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Advocacy
  • Runtime:
    12 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 3, 2020
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Center for Environmental Filmmaking
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Larry Kirkman

Director, Producer Larry Kirkman, is professor emeritus, Film and Media Arts, and dean emeritus, School of Communication, American University.

His work in media for public knowledge and action includes television documentaries, social advertising campaigns, online journalism projects, and strategic communications and issue advocacy for nonprofit organizations.

He was executive director of the Benton Foundation from 1989 to 2001 and AFL-CIO Labor Institute of Public Affairs from 1982 to 1989. He was the first director for TV and Video at the American Film Institute, where he produced the National Video Festival in 1981.

Shannon Shikles, Producer and Editor, is a documentary filmmaker based in Washington, DC. In the editing room and behind a camera, she works to tell meaningful stories that foster connections to the natural world and engage with impactful solutions to environmental problems. In her current role, she highlights the wildlife and beauty of National Marine Sanctuaries and helps share the stories of folks working to protect them through educational videos and short documentaries.

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Director Statement

“We found an intensity, an urgency, and a desire to communicate the fundamental importance of science to all aspects of our lives. The scientists in this video have made the decision to be more public, to stand up for the need for science to influence policy, to ensure they and their colleagues are not silenced. They represent the new strategic efforts that have been launched to train and equip scientists and science advocates to more effectively communicate the value and values of scientific knowledge.”