Our History New

“Scientists have a tremendous amount to contribute to solving society’s most pressing problems and many are eager to engage with society, but they often need help in learning how to be effective.” - Dr. Jane Lubchenco, COMPASS Co-Founder, Distinguished University Professor and Adviser in Marine Studies at Oregon State University, and former Administrator of NOAA

In her 1997 AAAS Presidential address, Dr. Jane Lubchenco laid out a “new social contract for science”. Recognizing the unprecedented environmental and social changes on our planet, she called for scientists to be more effective at transmitting new and existing knowledge to decision-makers and the public. In 1999, motivated by this call for action, COMPASS was founded to support marine scientists in their efforts to communicate. Our mission, at our founding and today, is to help scientists effectively share their knowledge in the public discourse and decision-making. We provide practical support for scientists to engage without compromising the accuracy of their science.

COMPASS, which originally stood for “Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea”, was founded by Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Vikki Spruill, Chuck Savitt, and Chris Harrold in partnership with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. In our early days, because the national conversation was focused on marine protected areas and fisheries, our task was to support scientists in these areas. Simultaneously, we were pioneering intensive communications trainings, including acting as lead trainers for the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program. Since then, the science and communications worlds have changed, and we have changed with them. We have expanded our scope beyond oceans, while creating new training programs and constantly expanding our networks. See our theory of change and learn more about our current services.

We are supported by a combination of earned revenue and foundation grants. Although we are widely known for fee-for-service trainings, the majority of our funding comes from philanthropic sources. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Wilburforce Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Campbell Foundation, the Marisla Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, the Kingfisher Foundation, and the National Science Foundation, among others, have provided critical support over the last fifteen years.