Neuroscience Ambassadors: Creating a Network of Academia-Community Partnerships
The field of neuroscience offers exciting, yet complex, insights into the human mind. In recent years, the need to improve the dialogue between neuroscientists and the public has been recognized, and an emphasis has been placed on the generation of public-based educational programs which reach outside the academic environment and into the community. One promising avenue includes the generation of mutually beneficial academia-community partnerships. These have the potential to allow faculty and students to acquire the necessary skills to become effective “neuroscience ambassadors”, while delivering attractive, fun, informative and educational opportunities to the general public. The Department of Psychology/Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Minor at Saint Francis University (SFU) created a public-oriented, neuroscience-based network of educational programs with local public libraries, Girl and Cub scout troops, elementary schools, high schools, children museums and nursing homes, in rural Pennsylvania. We envisioned that the programs will serve to improve academia-community conversations and benefit students, faculty, community partners and the public alike. In this paper, the design, implementation, implications, limitations, and future directions of the project are discussed.