Broader Impact (BI) Statements

The Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

What are Broader Impacts?

The National Science Foundation (NSF) evaluates proposals through the lenses of intellectual merit and broader impact (BI) criteria. Broader impact refers to the potential the work has to benefit society, to further educational horizons and knowledge of the general public, and to create a sustainable future for STEM research. 

According to the NSF, a well-written BI statement "should include activities that are clearly described; have a well-justified rationale; and demonstrate creativity or originality, or have a basis in established approaches. The proposer should have a well-organized strategy for the accomplishment of clearly stated goals; establish the qualifications of those responsible for the activities; and demonstrate sufficient resources for support. A plan should be in place to document the results."

Support from the Office might include:

  • Formulating BI/outreach plans that are well aligned with proposed research and faculty interests
  • Identifying and tapping into existing infrastructure and programming to align with the proposal
  • Catalyzing and coordinating external partnerships
  • Once funded, coordinating and supporting programming, communication, and impact evaluation

Developing a broader impact or outreach plan that is well suited to faculty interests, time and resources is a collaborative effort. Ideally, investigators should contact Outreach as soon as they begin work on a proposal that requires a broader impact or outreach component. More lead time will result in a better proposal.

Proposals are encouraged to meet at least one or two of the major strands of the broader impact parameters:

  • Building STEM talent
  • Innovating for the future
  • Improving our society
  • Reaching beyond borders
  • Engaging a wider audience

National Alliance for Broader Impacts and ARIS

Every year the National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI), of which Dartmouth is a member, conducts a review of the broader impact ecosystem. 

In 2017, NABI convened two forums to identify needs and solicit recommendations. The first event was a 90-minute town hall session with 120 participants facilitated by Jamie Bell at the April 2017 BI Summit. The second event was a two-day convening facilitated by Goose Creek Consulting at NSF headquarters in May 2017 of stakeholder groups including university administrators (e.g., provosts, associate provosts, vice-presidents of research), university faculty, government officials (e.g., NSF program officers, congressional staffers), non-academic stakeholders (e.g., non-profit leaders, national organizational representatives), and BI professionals. Participants in these forums identified issues that inhibit innovative and successful BI outcomes and presented recommendations to address these barriers.

Participants reaffirmed that BI work is critical to public understanding of and engagement with scientific research and noted that the proposed culture change created by these recommendations would, among other goals, create larger ecosystems for organizational learning, increase awareness and resources available for faculty.

To this end, Dartmouth, in partnership with the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) was selected to participate in a year-long NSF-funded study to develop Broader Impacts Design, measurement, and sustainability. We are actively seeking PIs who are considering applying for a NSF CAREER award this season, and have developed a series of BI workshops to which all faculty interested in learning more about broader impacts and resources available are welcome.

In 2018, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a $5.2 million grant to fund the Center for Advancing the Societal Impacts of Research (ARIS).  The ARIS Center is housed at the University of Missouri and will work with scientists and engagement practitioners to build capacity, advance scholarship, grow partnerships and provide resources to help them engage with and demonstrate the impact of research in their communities and society. Dartmouth is honored to serve on the Awards Committee for the inaugural BI Champion Award in 2019.

ARIS (OIA-1810732) was founded in 2018 with co-funding from the following National Science Foundation Directorates: Biological Sciences, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and Education and Human Resources.