Use of ELP Newsletter as a Framework for Blogging

by Denis Sonwa (ELP 2010), Cameroon

Image iconSonwa-POLEX1-300x200_2.jpg Hauling fuelwood in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo. Ollivier Girard/CIFOR photo

Nowadays, as a scientist, you need to go beyond peer-reviewed publications and make yourself accessible in different formats to a broader audience including non-scientists, among whom some are decision makers. This can be done by publishing in a public journal, newsletter, blog, etc. The writing can be related to one or several scientific publications with the objective of popularizing the findings of these papers. The writing can also be related to development/political events taking place nationally, regionally or internationally. The content of the writing can be enriched by incorporating scientific evidence and referring to statements by decision makers, public personalities and so on. It is evident that besides receiving formal training on how to communicate scientific findings to a broader audience, practice is the best school. Besides the contents, looking for the ideal time to produce your blog is also very important. This is where the ELP Newsletter and Blog platform has proven very useful for me.

After the important multidisciplinary training that we received at UC Berkeley during the Beahrs ELP, members were welcomed into the alumni community. Here, the alumni newsletter is one of the main links between ELPers, where the editorial team regularly asks members to provide contributions/blogs for the newsletter.  The team generally defines topics for newsletters and when possible, ties it to an important event/agenda. The call for contributions generally comes as a ring, reminding me that I need to blog!  With the call, I then see how to fit the newsletter’s theme in my own professional/regional context. My audience for my writing is generally my ELP peers, the UC Berkeley community, and the broader audience that may be interested by the region and the topic covered.

If my memory is true, my first experience with making a contribution for the ELP newsletter was for Rio + 20. My contribution that was published in the ELP newsletter was seen by the CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research) Communication department and viewed as a document that could be edited  and included in Polex. Polex is an online blog by forest policy experts. The blog was therefore edited and published on the CIFOR website with a mention that it was first published in the UC Berkeley ELP Newsletter. From there, generally the blog is retweeted (or shared using social media) to a broader audience.

Thus, the ELP alumni newsletter for me is not just an important tool to keep in contact with ELP, but also a framework useful in my professional life. I want to thank the editorial team for their good job in defining the contents and the appropriate frequency of the newsletter.