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Fri, Dec 21

New Center to Expand Broader Impacts Effort

Under a new $5.2 million grant, the National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI) will expand to become the Advancing Research and its Impact on Society (ARIS) Center. Housed at the University of Missouri, the Center will be the first of its kind in the nation.

In 1997 the National Science Foundation (NSF) formalized the inclusion of Broader Impacts into its proposal review requirements. In 2011, they further emphasized the need for meaningful inclusion of these criteria and soon established NABI under a five-year grant. The ARIS Center aims to expand this foundational effort beyond the NSF by promoting and supporting research efforts through additional federal and private foundations.

Dr. Jory Weintraub, Duke Initiative for Science & Society faculty member and Director of Duke University’s Broader Impacts Resource Center (BIRC) is one of ten Co-Principal Investigators on the award led by Dr. Susan Renoe, Principal Investigator and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research, Extension & Engagement at the University of Missouri.

Jory Weintraub Broader Impacts

With a team of partners from ten universities, the ARIS Center will enhance outreach and engagement efforts in the nation and abroad by developing proposals, publications, and programs that share evidence-based practices for enhancing the societal impact of research. Through the effort, scientists and engagement specialists will be provided tools and training to expand their efforts, advance scholarship, and grow partnerships.

“It is a concerted effort to support any researcher who wants to think about and communicate the impact of their work on society,” says Weintraub. The ARIS Center will widen the terminology beyond Broader Impacts to be more inclusive, opting for Research Impacts as they expand their effort beyond the NSF.

Broader Impacts efforts have historically been limited to the NSF-funded projects that require them. But Weintraub and his colleagues believe every research proposal is made stronger and more compelling by focusing on how the work impacts society.

Dipping into a regularly debated political topic, Weintraub adds, “Another straightforward goal of Research Impacts is to communicate back to tax payers why the research is relevant to them, and serve as an assurance that their money is well spent.” This has been a concern not traditionally focused on by researchers, but one that has become increasingly prioritized in recent decades.

Jory Weintraub SciComm

Dr. Weintraub joined NABI’s steering committee shortly after its inception five years ago and Science & Society’s team shortly thereafter. His work through BIRC has been integral to the success of many NSF grant proposals at Duke and around the country. But more importantly, his related efforts in science communication training, education, and outreach has greatly furthered the purpose of Research Impacts within the research community and outwardly with the public. His work with ARIS will continue to inform his efforts locally at Duke and the BIRC.

National partners and institutions for the ARIS center include: Brown University, Duke University, Iowa State University, Madison Area Technical College, Michigan State University, Northeastern University, Northwestern University, Oregon State University, Rutgers University and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Learn more at the Broader Impacts website.