Community-based participatory research and other equity approaches to data revitalize research, improve evaluation, and yield better data.

This article was originally published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review with the title “How Philanthropy Can Help Lead on Data Justice.”

Today, data governs almost every aspect of our lives, shaping the opportunities we have, how we perceive reality and understand problems, and even what we believe to be possible. Philanthropy is particularly data driven, relying on it to inform decision-making, define problems, and measure impact. But what happens when data design and collection methods are flawed, lack context, or contain critical…


When grantmakers accept unsolicited grant proposals, they learn more about community needs.

Over the past two years, philanthropy has been taking a hard look at itself. Conversations on how to better advance diversity, equity and inclusion occur at almost every gathering.

But to address these issues effectively, philanthropy must also tackle a longstanding practice that presents a barrier to historically marginalized groups. Many foundations do not accept unsolicited grant proposals, considering applications only from groups they have invited to apply.

To many small or new nonprofits, especially those representing communities of color, this functions as a giant “Keep Out” sign…


Scientists, research institutions and science writers have different roles to play.

We live in a moment when preventable infectious diseases like measles are spreading because parents distrust vaccines, and scientists at government agencies are being told not to use terms like “evidence-based.” The president dismisses the findings of a National Climate Assessment by more than 300 scientists and 13 federal agencies that warns of massive economic and environmental damage totaling hundreds of billions of dollars, crop failures, disrupted supply chains and multiple threats to human health, saying, “I don’t believe it.”

But when I argued in favor of the proposition (Resolved: “Science writers are responsible for building public trust in science”)…


Science and the media need each other. They just don’t know it yet.

When I began my term as a public policy scholar at the Wilson Center several years ago working on the project “Science and the Media,” I ran into a journalist colleague I hadn’t seen in years. When he heard what I was doing, he said in astonishment, “Science? How did you get interested in that?”

He wasn’t the only one to react that way. It’s a symptom of the relationship — or more precisely, the lack of a relationship — between scientists and the vast majority of…


Librarians, scientists, academics and journalists can achieve more by working together

This interview was conducted by Melody Kramer for The Collaborative Journalism Project at the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University

Louise Lief is interested in the spaces where stakeholders from across fields can come together and collaborate to strengthen our civic ecosystem. We spoke about her work, which covers everything from what news organizations can learn from the library sector to new models for civic engagement to when and how scientists and journalists can collaborate.

Melody Kramer: As part of your recent work as a scholar-in-residence at the American University School of Communication Investigative Reporting Workshop, you studied…


This essay was originally published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy

The nonprofit I See Change began as a public-media project, helping farmers in western Colorado observe and record yearly changes on their land due to weather and climate by creating a communal digital Farmers’ Almanac.

Then it started doing science. It joined forces with local media organizations, university-based scientists, and community groups in Harlem to investigate summer indoor-heat indexes for residents without air conditioning. Their findings raised important public-health issues, suggesting local governments should change the way they do heat advisories and organize cooling centers.

Next, the project went to…


Science and the media seek to reset relations with the public

This piece first appeared in the Medium publication for the Knight Commission on Truth, Media and Democracy, which is exploring how to improve trust in the media and strengthen democracy.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A couple of statistics convey the challenge ahead for scientists as their work is doubted and their policy contributions marginalized. In 2011, two-thirds of Americans could not name a single living scientist. By 2018, 84 percent could not. Scientists’ decreasing visibility is but one of several warning lights flashing on the civic dashboard. …


Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Science, like the media, seeks to reset relations with the public

by Louise Lief

A couple of statistics convey the challenge ahead for scientists as their work is doubted and their policy contributions marginalized. In 2011, two-thirds of Americans could not name a single living scientist. By 2018, 84 percent could not. Scientists’ decreasing visibility is but one of several warning lights flashing on the civic dashboard. A majority of those who vote or lean Republican believe colleges and universities are having a negative impact on the country.

Like the media, science suffers from a trust problem. Science’s institutional priorities have long focused on research and professional publication rather than engaging…

Science & the Media

Working to advance civic participation, solve problems and empower communities. Exploring all the connections. By Louise Lief.

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