Making Strides in Brain Awareness Outreach
From March 10 to 16, communities around the world will highlight the importance of the brain and brain research during Brain Awareness Week (BAW).
The Society for Neuroscience partners with the Dana Foundation to help more than 3,600 educators and neuroscience supporters in 82 countries plan events in their communities to promote brain awareness to people of all ages. SfN hosted a webinar on Jan. 21 for new and longtime supporters to generate event ideas and learn how to plan a successful event.
BAW was inspired by Bruce Alberts, a biochemistry professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who created a program that brought scientists to the city’s elementary school classrooms to teach the students science. The concept of making science real struck a chord that resonated with Bruce McEwen, former president of SfN, who was then Dean of Graduate Studies at Rockefeller University in New York. McEwen proceeded to develop a brain awareness program at the university, using Alberts’ model.
As president of SfN, McEwen was determined to bring his passion for science education to an even broader audience. He decided to work with the Dana Foundation, which was running a series of public lectures with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies about the work of Salk’s scientists.
SfN’s partnership with the Dana Foundation on BAW came at a time when concern about continued funding for scientific research was growing. Neuroscientists wanted to form better connections with disease advocacy groups and improve awareness about brain research among legislators and the general public. SfN envisioned BAW outreach as a way to encourage its chapters to become involved in their local communities.
Brain Awareness Week Resources
Additional tools for planning BAW events can be found on SfN.org and BrainFacts.org, both of which provide resources on brain awareness for the public and educators to use throughout the year. The Society also engages the public on BAW through the BrainFacts.org Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Visit the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives for additional information and ideas for public outreach, along with downloadable materials for BAW events and background on how to partner for BAW.