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The Conversation and Burroughs Wellcome Fund announce partnership to encourage more diverse expert voices in the media

Minority and underrepresented scholars seated and standing around a board room table
Participants in the Postdoctoral Enrichment Program of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund at a meeting. Courtesy Burroughs Wellcome Fund

I’m delighted to announce that The Conversation has received a planning grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to help us launch a new initiative to develop, promote, and sustain diverse expert voices for the public.

I know that as a reader of The Conversation you already understand the importance of the work we do at The Conversation to raise up the voices of trusted experts. By increasing our efforts to work with more scholars from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, this grant will allow us to expand their presence and influence. I can’t think of anything more important in these times than equipping the public in this way to make better-informed decisions.

Here’s the full text of the press release:

The Conversation and Burroughs Wellcome Fund Announce Partnership to Encourage Diverse Voices in the Media

Boston, Oct. 26, 2020 – The Conversation US (TCUS) has received a planning grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) to develop a program to identify and cultivate scholars of color in the biomedical sciences to become public voices.

The $75,000 grant will fund The Conversation to develop a series of webinars designed to inspire and inform scholars about public scholarship and to guide them in how to write for The Conversation and, more generally, how to interact more regularly with the public through a variety of communication channels, including public speaking, broadcast interviews and writing.

This grant is the first step of a major initiative by The Conversation to develop, promote and sustain diverse and trusted expert voices for the public good.

“This grant is critically important given the lack of diverse perspectives in media,” said Bruce Wilson, chief innovation and development officer for TCUS. “Bringing the expert voices of scholars of color into the public square will ensure a more inclusive dialogue in society.”

BWF and The Conversation seek to change how scholars of color contribute expertise to help the public. Both organizations strive to identify, cultivate and inspire these academics to become public voices in their areas of expertise, not only on issues of inequality or race.

“We are delighted to support this unique partnership with The Conversation to engage and bring into the public forum diverse scholars to lend their voices, experiences and talents,” BWF President and CEO Dr. Louis Muglia said. “We hope to encourage broader engagement by the public at large and inspire future generations of scientists and scholars.”

“The Burroughs Wellcome Fund and The Conversation have great ambition to ensure the voice of experts in society is truly inclusive,” said Beth Daley, editor and general manager of The Conversation. “By doing so, we can allow new authority from different perspectives.”

In 2012, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund launched the Postdoctoral Enrichment Program for underrepresented minority biomedical research fellows. Since then, the Fund has invested $7.5 million into the program. There are 125 past and present BWF scholars/researchers of color who will be invited to participate in these professional webinars to become public voices.

The Conversation’s subject-expert editors work with top scholars nationwide to transform their research into accessible journalism that is offered free to news media. Stories are distributed through the Associated Press, Yahoo News and hundreds of other media outlets across the globe.

About the Burroughs Wellcome Fund

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is a private foundation based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Its mission is to serve and strengthen society by nurturing a diverse group of leaders in biomedical sciences to improve human health through education and powering discovery in frontiers of greatest need.

About The Conversation US

The Conversation US is an independent, nonprofit media organization offering news, commentary and analysis authored by academics and edited by journalists for the general public. Its mission is to increase the availability of evidence-based information and strengthen journalism by unlocking the rich diversity of academic knowledge and expertise for audiences across America.

Launched in October 2014, The Conversation US has published work by over 9,000 scholars from more than 630 American colleges and universities. It is funded by many of the nation’s leading foundations and universities.

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