Carrying new knowledge emerging from research into industry and the public realm will be a key priority. This will be accomplished through translational and strategic communications, strategic partnerships, the development of educational programs and tools, and an annual Trust Summit.
This summit will be intentional about bringing together researchers and practitioners for the purposes of knowledge exchange and co-creation. It will be sited in a major city, ideally in partnership with a large media organization or foundation doing work in this space, and will feature prominent speakers, presentations, workshops, and facilitated discussions.
The Consortium will work with national and state policymakers to create new policies regarding oversight of social media platforms. Both the College of Journalism and Communications (CJC) and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) are well-positioned to deliver these recommendations through existing centers. CLAS has the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, the Bureau of Economic and Business Research and the Public Policy Research Center. CJC has the Brechner Center, the Center for Public Interest Communications and the STEM Translational Communication Center, and is home to the National Freedom of Information Coalition.
UF offers extraordinary experiential venues. For example, the College of Journalism and Communications (CJC) houses seven media properties, including the PBS and NPR affiliates for 20 counties in North Central Florida, the ESPN affiliate, a 24-hour cable channel for news and weather, the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, a commercial country music station, and a digital top-40 station that experiments with digital apps in partnership with Futuri. Content for each of these media outlets and associated digital channels is produced by students working in the Innovation News Center under the guidance of seasoned news professionals. In addition, The Agency is a full-service strategic communication agency staffed by students and led by professionals.
Each of these venues are potential test beds for research and outlets for experimentation.
CJC has two centers that will be partners in the Consortium and will play key roles in connecting the research with application: The Center for Public Interest Communications (CPIC), established in 2017, is the first center in the U.S. dedicated to developing, translating and applying the science of strategic communication to drive social change. The focus on PIC has grown since 2009 and its primary focus is building a curriculum, fostering PIC research (CJC publishes the only academic journal for this discipline), helping to grow the field, and working with for-profit and non-profit organizations on using effective storytelling, and insights from science from a range of disciplines, to advance their causes.
The Center provides a variety of training to help scientists, scholars, foundations and other organizations build relationships and communicate the value of their work to funders, collaborators, policymakers, and members of the news media. For example, the Center is working with the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees Innovation Service to explore how communication strategies can accelerate the spread of innovative approaches to providing care and protection to the more than 66 million refugees in the world. The Center collaborates with the UF Training & Organizational Development unit to provide strategic communication training to UF leaders and scholars.
The STEM Translational Communication Center (STCC) was established in 2016 to help make findings from basic, translational and applied science useful for practical application, to enhance human wellbeing. Trust in the source of scientific information is essential to its effective dissemination and adoption. Properly translated and communicated to various audiences, complex science can inform decisions about any number of areas, including the environment, technology, engineering, health, and policy. Partnerships formed between STEM and communication researchers bridge academia, industry and communities to disseminate consequential science and health knowledge to stakeholder groups.
The messages, techniques and strategies resulting from these collaborations can foster improved science and health literacy, which in turn can yield enhanced engagement, support, prestige and visibility in areas UF and its stakeholders want to advance. The STCC is housed within the College of Journalism and Communications with connections across the UF Health campus, including the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and UF Health Cancer Center. The STCC fosters strategic communication partnerships across diverse disciplines at UF and internationally.
Both centers have the capacity to guide the development of strategies for communicating discoveries in ways that will resonate with the public and will help to develop programs for educating practitioners about these discoveries, along with tools for trustworthiness.
In this multi-disciplinary consortium, engineers and computer scientists will work with media scholars and social scientists to develop products and systems that may be used 1) in conjunction with existing platforms and/or 2) as stand-alone products/systems in the areas of trust, verification, data literacy, and more.
UF’s infrastructure for innovation is substantial. Just a few examples are UF Innovate|The Hub for startup ventures, the Innovation Academy for undergraduate education, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center at Warrington College of Business, and the Innovation News Center at CJC for experience and experimentation in storytelling.
Experimentation and application will be guided by the investigations of our researchers and the input of external stakeholders, including business and industry.
Expertise and capacity for data collection and analysis for the Consortium is supported by the partnership with the Informatics Institute (UFII). The UFII supports integrative informatics research and education studies at the University of Florida. This institute brings together preeminent researchers that explore contemporary application areas across the university (e.g., those arising in science and medicine, the humanities, social sciences, and engineering) with UF experts developing the tools and technologies that support and complement these studies. UFII leverages the explosion of data in understanding people, culture, political development, education, and human behavior and applies data science methods to the study of interconnectivity on our persons and in our homes, the capabilities of high-performance computers, the emergence of smart infrastructure, and the “Internet of everything”.