Document Type


Publication Date



Environmental Studies



Publication Title



The demand for geoscience to inform policy decisions continues to rise. For science to effectively inform policy, scientists must have training that enhances their understanding of the movement of knowledge across boundaries, e.g., between science and policy. This training should be based on existing perceptions scientists at all career stages have about potential roles they might play. In this study, geoscientists’ drawings of their perceptions of the diffusion of science into policy were collected and salient features were coded. For comparison, four expert models were also collected from individuals with extensive experience working at the interface between science and policy. A principal component analysis identified common patterns in the relationships depicted in the geoscientists’ drawings, resulting in five distinctive models describing different perceived roles scientists might play in the diffusion of science into policy: a beacon informing decisions, a collaborator working alongside policymakers to co-produce knowledge, an educator enhancing the capacity of society in the classroom and media, an outcast whose efforts to inform are rejected, and an investigator whose research may or may not be used depending on how others interpret it. Increasing the effectiveness of scientists’ engagements requires enhancing their ability to understand potential roles that they might play; understanding what roles are most appropriate for them; and discerning how they can best fulfill these roles in their work. Suggestions for cultivating this capacity are offered based on the expert models and a discussion of guided reflection within experiential learning in the classroom and beyond.


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© 2019. This publication is made available under the CC-BY-NC license:

Open access publication of this article was made possible with grant support from Waidner-Spahr Library distributed through the Dickinson College Research & Development Committee.