Preparing Graduate Students for Community Engagement

By Anna Courtier, PI

Graduate education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) traditionally focuses on preparing students to succeed in research-intensive careers. Scientists and engineers are generally not taught how to engage with the community as part of their research. teaching, or other long-term career goals. Graduate students often do not know how to access training in community engagement, are unaware of its importance, and/or lack the confidence or experience to take part.

This project, the Public Service Fellows Program, tested a year-long professional development program as a means to prepare graduate students to view public service as a responsibility that comes with their scientific training. It provided practical experience working with community partners on science-focused issues and projects. Integrating public service into STEM graduate student training will improve the practice of future generations of scientists by teaching the specific skills and mindsets needed for community engagement.

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The Public Service Fellows program is a three-semester professional development sequence for graduate students and postdocs in STEM. The program builds foundational knowledge, skills, and practical experience in public service and community engagement. Graduate and postdoc students from any STEM discipline will be able to incorporate issues of public concern into their career goals. This fellows program culminates in a mentored practicum with a campus, community, or governmental organization.

Learn more about the Public Service Fellows program