Early Career Climate Network Supports Career Development of Young Researchers and Practitioners

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In a new study, researchers found that the Early Career Climate Network provides a sense of community and hope for the future and highlights the beneficial role the online science, networking, and communication platform plays in supporting the next generation of climate change scientists and practitioners.

Image: Climate Boot Camp Group

The 2015 Climate Boot Camp fellows and Northwest Climate Science Center staff at Pack Forest Conference Center, Washington.

(Credit: Ryan McClymont, USGS. Public domain.)

Climate change is a complex topic in which scientific advances and recommendations must necessarily be put in the context of cultural, economic, and environmental value systems. As a result, communicating about climate change to decision makers, stakeholders, and the public can be difficult for researchers, who often do not have specific training in translating science for broader audiences. The Early Career Climate Network (ECCN), formerly the Early Career Climate Forum, is an online scientific community designed to support early-career researchers and practitioners as they learn to conduct and communicate climate change research. First conceived at the 2012 Northwest Climate Science Bootcamp workshop, the ECCN launched online in 2015 with funding from the Northeast CASC. Today, the ECCN provides a community that includes many current and past CASC affiliates, with resources on science communication, career development, and research methods.

In a recent study published in the journal Weather Climate and Society led by NE CASC fellow Meaghan Guckian, current and past board members of the Early Career Climate Network, including researchers from the Northeast and South Central CASCs, surveyed the ECCN community to evaluate the role of the network on members’ career development. Their survey generated responses from current and past members from diverse career stages living across the United States that were familiar with the ECCN platform.

Survey respondents reported that the ECCN provides a sense of community and hope for the future, highlighting the unique supportive role of online science communities for young scientists and practitioners. Respondents also indicated that they valued community resources such as links to job boards, fellowships, and writing and communication tools, indicating that the forum is fulfilling its purpose in supporting early career researchers’ career development.

The current ECCN board hopes to use insights from the survey to continue to improve the community. "[The] ECCN is working to build a more active and engaged network,” says Linsey Middleton, ECCN Editor. “Knowledge-sharing is at the heart of ECCN, with resources, tips, and research regularly showcased. In the future, ECCN hopes to offer more networking opportunities and social media groups, as well as [more] career development, mentorship, and trainings.”

 

This publication stems from the Northeast CASC project, Supporting Early Career Climate Communications and Networking.

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