Jumpstart Your Sustainability Plan with a Free Mini-Course

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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

By Nayiri Mullinix, SGCI Community Engagement and Exchange Coordinator

Are you interested in developing a sustainability strategy? The Science Gateways Community Institute (SGCI) is offering a free Jumpstart Your Sustainability Plan mini-course on March 1-3, 2021 from 12-1:30 p.m. ET each day. Register for the event by February 24, 2021.

The mini-course will focus solely on offering practical and effective steps for developing a sustainability strategy. Whether you are writing a new research grant or are ready to get to the next level with a more mature project, this course offers principal investigators and their teams the perfect way to kick off sustainability planning.

Course Features Core Sustainability Topics

Gateway Focus Week is one of the Science Gateway Community Institute’s most popular programs, providing five days of in-person, intensive learning for gateway projects (also known as virtual labs, portal, digital initiatives, virtual research environments, citizen science, eScience). Given that COVID-19 limited our ability to travel and gather last year, we offered a virtual Focus Week as well as a new virtual mini-course focused on sustainability strategies. Both programs were a great success, so we’re offering them again in 2021!

The mini-course will outline the core topics any sustainability plan should address, including: 

  • Key components of a Sustainability Strategy
  • Practical steps for developing your plan
  • Pitfalls to avoid 

 View the full course agenda.

Mini-Course Follows Successful June 2020 Course

Fifty-four participants joined Jumpstart Your Sustainability Plan, which was held June 16-18,  2020. The mini-course focused on key elements of sustainability planning. Focus Week’s lead instructors, Nancy Maron, founder and principal of BlueSky to BluePrint, and Juliana Casavan, program manager for MatchBOX Coworking Studio, presented the core topics each day, outlining the key components any sustainability strategy should address. Subjects covered included:

  • What exactly is sustainability, and why is it important?
  • Articulating your value proposition
  • Audience as the key to a sustainability strategy
  • Finding the funding model that works for you

After each day’s main presentation, participants could meet with the instructors to receive personalized feedback and attend Special Topics presentations offered later in the afternoon. The special topics covered were:

  • Cybersecurity for Science Gateways
  • User Experience for Science Gateways
  • Activity-based Budgeting

“These core concepts can help project leaders at any stage of their work,” said Nancy Maron. “We were delighted to see so many new project leaders join us, including many who were just in planning stages.” Juliana Casavan added, “This new online format gives us the opportunity to share these critical concepts with more people in the science gateway community and help them plan for their future sustainability.”

Greg Newman, Research Scientist at Colorado State University and Director of CitSci.org, said he’s already using the skills he learned during the mini-course, “Our citizen science gateway benefited from this mini-course greatly. In fact, we are already putting the usability and recommendations into practice, having already conducted two usability sessions and finished a draft activity-based budget for our platform and gateway.”

Another participant, Jenny Chipault of the Wildlife Epidemiology Team/Informatics Team at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, said, “The mini-course helped me step back from my role as a scientist trying to deliver data to the masses, and examine our gateway through a business lens. Who is our real audience? How can we fund this project into the future? How do we promote the value of our endeavor? These were some of the questions I was guided through during this course.”

Luis M. Rodriguez-R, Department of Microbiology & Digital Science Center (DiSC) at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, added, “The SGCI online workshop was a fantastic experience, where I got to take a step back and think of the history and future outlook of my project. I have often thought about the science behind the project: how it works, how I can use it, and how others are using it. However, this workshop gave me tangible, practical tools to think about it from other perspectives: how can I measure user experience, what are the roadblocks for successful use and implementation, what security flaws are there in my gateway, how is my project actually funded and how I want it to be funded, and ultimately how sustainable my project is and how can I make it more sustainable. I have used this shift in the way I see my project to organize it as a portfolio (currently with six different products I had never even listed!), and I have already implemented a pilot usability test in one of the upcoming products before launching.”