Snowmass Workshops on Communication
for the Future of Particle Physics

Three workshops for physicists and science communicators:

Gaining Community Support for Scientific Initiatives, July 2-6

Making the Case for Particle Physics, July 9-11

Building a National Communication Strategy for Particle Physics, July 16-19

Week One
Gaining Community Support for Scientific Initiatives

New large-scale scientific initiatives require not only the support of national and international scientific communities and governments, but also the support of neighbors, the people who live in surrounding communities. Just as important as technology development, infrastructure and site geology in determining the feasibility of a new accelerator, for example, is gaining public support. It is all too easy to imagine a scenario in which local opposition to an offsite accelerator makes the project impossible. While community support is a particularly critical issue in the consideration of accelerators that would extend beyond a site’s boundaries, it is required to a significant degree for any future initiative.

Goal: To engage science communicators and interested physicists in identifying issues and formulating plans and strategies for outreach to local communities in support of large-scale future scientific initiatives.

Approach: Both DESY Laboratory in Hamburg and CERN in Geneva have recent experience in successful outreach to local communities to gain support for the construction of large offsite accelerators. Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory have significant experience in dealing with laboratory-community relations in support of scientific operations. Thomas Jefferson Laboratory has mobilized state and local support for new and upgraded scientific facilities at their site in Virginia. Fermilab will soon have the results of its first community opinion survey of local residents, including their views on future expansions beyond the current Fermilab site; and members of the Fermilab Siting Task Force have recently completed an analysis of community outreach issues in connection with any future accelerator at the laboratory. The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center confronts similar issues associated with the impact on the local communities from new construction on the site.

The workshop will bring together science communicators and interested physicists from these and other U.S. and international accelerator laboratories, scientific societies and funding agencies to present case studies, analyze issues and formulate strategies for community outreach in support of large scientific initiatives.

Key Participants: Public Affairs directors from DESY Hamburg, CERN, Gran Sasso and U.S. physics laboratories; public affairs professionals from funding agencies; interested physicists.

Registered Participants and schedule

To participate in the Week One Communication Workshop, July 2-6

Week Two
Making the Case for Particle Physics

Large-scale scientific initiatives require large-scale government support. Making an effective case for such support demands the development of long-term, carefully considered advocacy strategy for the scientific community that depends on these initiatives to make scientific advances.

Goal: To engage physicists and science communicators in a discussion of advocacy strategies for the various policy-making decision groups in Washington who could contribute to a decision to pursue large-scale scientific initiatives in U.S. particle physics.

Approach: Present information about each policy-making decision group and how the group can be influenced to support particle physics initiatives. Present information on how each group is motivated, how it gets its information, whom it trusts, and how advocates and their supporters communicate with each group.

Policy-Making Decision Groups
Administration: DOE (career), DOE (political), OMB, White House
Capitol Hill: Members of Congress who are science advocates, science detractors, appropriators, spending hawks, want the facility built in their state; Appropriations Committees’ staff; science committees’ staff.

Three half-day sessions consisting of plenary lectures about each policy-making decision group by government relations and public relations professionals as well as physicists experienced with the Washington scene, followed by break-out teams that discuss case studies and offer consensus plans on how physicists might approach advocacy in the case studies, identifying the best approaches for cooperation and effectiveness. Day One will cover the Executive Branch; Day Two will cover the Congress; Day Three will cover outside groups who influence policy-making decision groups (locals, contractors, K-12 interests, journalists, etc.). The proceedings from the three days, including case studies and group plans, will be incorporated into a subsequent wrap-up session.

Key participants: Government relations and public affairs professionals, as well as interested physicists from laboratories, universities, scientific societies and funding agencies.


To participate in the Week Two Communication Workshop, July 9-11

Week Three
Building a National Communication Strategy
for Particle Physics

While there are many individually successful communication efforts in support of U.S. particle physics, they typically operate in isolation from—and sometimes at cross-purposes to—each other. Further, the relatively limited resources for communication and outreach that are available make it especially important to leverage what we have, through collaboration and strategic planning. Forming a national collaboration of science communicators from universities, laboratories, scientific societies and across funding agencies has the potential to make a significant change for the better.

Goal: Engage science communicators in the discussion and formulation of a coordinated and collaborative national strategy for communicating the nature and value of particle physics in support of continuing U.S. leadership in the field.

Create a communication plan that addresses such issues as:

  • Messages
  • Audiences
  • DOE-NSF collaboration and coordination
  • Science communication research
  • Media relations
  • Sharing of resources (graphics, expertise, media contacts, materials)
  • Formation of a listserv
  • Common publications and websites
  • Formation of an ongoing particle physics communication working group
  • Coordination with science funding agencies and scientific societies, and with other fields of science
  • International collaboration

Key participants: Public Affairs professionals from national laboratories, funding agencies and scientific societies; interested members of the 2001 HEPAP Subpanel.

To participate in the Week Three Communication Workshop, July 16-19