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My 1st #ScholarSunday goes to… @GlobalEcoGuy

March 10, 2013


Let me start by saying, I’m not an academic. I do however, have a great appreciation for academics, and particularly those that are using social media to help inform and engage the non-academic community. A few months ago, I came across the #ScholarSunday hashtag – started by Dr. Raul Pacheco as a #FollowFriday for academics. I think this is a brilliant way of helping to identify those academics that are transforming the role of academics in society. From a meetings industry perspective, finding engaging academics can add an valuable perspective to your program, regardless of whether or not you’re hosting an academic event.

What I look for in a #ScholarSunday:

  1. Do they challenge my assumptions?
  2. Do they tell great stories, and are they able to back them up with solid research?
  3. Can and do they respond well to criticism about their findings or posts?
  4. Do they actively engage with their friends and followers on social media, or do they only broadcast about themselves?
  5. Is their work accessible to the non-academic?
  6. Do they come across as human?

Why My 1st #ScholarSunday goes to @GlobalEcoGuy

My first #ScholarSunday goes to @GlobalEcoGuy (Dr. Jonathan Foley, the director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota) for the reasons listed above. His TED talk (see below) and thought provoking articles in Nature and Scientific American focus on a plan to feed the world while sustaining the planet. (FYI – their new publication ensia is my favorite online magazine – great science, stories and visuals.)

In preparation for this post, I had the pleasure of interviewing him about science & social media. A short excerpt from the interview is below:

[View the full transcript of “My Interview with @GlobalEcoGuy” on Storify]

I also put him on the spot for who he likes to follow on social media. His comments on possible generational differences to approaches to social media can be found in the transcript above, and he also provided a few names:

Advice for Eventprofs about Academics as Speakers

I have planned many academic conferences over the years, and I can say that some academics are exceptional presenters and others well, are not. I think that #ScholarSunday has the potential to be a great resource for event professionals because it helps us to identify academics that know how to engage and are respected by their peers. In addition, I strongly recommend finding videos of their presentations, as this helps to get a sense of their presentation style as well. A few tips to share with them before their sessions include:

  • Review expectations about the presentation style that you and your participants need, including interactive and visual elements.
  • Ask them to engage with your event participants using the event hashtag before, during and after the event.
  • If possible, schedule a twitter chat with several speakers and your community members and send the transcript out to promote your event.
  • Provide them with background information about your audience and the audience’s knowledge of the subject matter so that the content can be appropriately tailored.
  • Consider an interview format rather than a standard lecture presentation, this can help make the session more engaging for the audience.


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