Liz Neeley: Science Communication and Sensemaking Amidst Crisis

Liz Neeley is the founder of Liminal Creations, a design and consulting firm focused on sense-making and science engagement. She is also a lecturer at Yale, where she collaborates with the National Neuroscience Curriculum Initiative. Her career began in ocean conservation and is inspired by more than a decade of work in storytelling and science communication. Neeley currently sits on the AAAS Committee on Science and Technology Engagement with the Public (CoSTEP) and the advisory board for the Aspen Institute Science & Society Program. From 2015 to 2020, she was the executive director of The Story Collider. She has an ongoing fascination with personal knowledge management systems and would love to hear about your favorite tools and practices. Find her on twitter at @LizNeeley.

Abstract: The attendees of the 2021 ABAI share a professional identity as behavioral analysts. Yet we simultaneously inhabit a diversity of overlapping identities and social roles. Partners and parents, patients and caregivers, we are all community-members and survivors of an ongoing global pandemic. COVID-19 continues to raise deeply personal challenges in interpreting, navigating, and guiding our communities through what has been titled an “omni-crisis.” In short, how do we make sense of this past year? Where do we go from here? How do we cope with the profound inequities exacerbated by this particular event, much less those to come? This keynote will draw from literatures on uncertainty and risk communication, misinformation, psychology, narrative identity, and sensemaking to explore the communication challenges and responsibilities of experts and educators.

Those who participated in the Presidential Scholar Address learned how to discuss the limitations of the information deficit model of science communication; identify the components of a sensemaking approach to crisis communications; and develop an initial formulation of how to apply a sensemaking perspective in their own work.