Seventeen (17) Things to Consider When Starting a Broader Impacts Organization

When considering or starting a broader impacts organization on your campus it is important to understand that context matters. The research-based scholarly definition of broader impacts is “a process with people/stakeholders to achieve a societal benefit in a finite time that is measured. This can be through one’s teaching, research, service, and occupation. There can be broader impacts of almost anything. If done appropriately broader impacts can lead to sustainable positive impacts” [1] [2] [3] [4]. Understanding this as it relates to broader impacts is also important – whether you are reshaping an old organization to align with a broader impacts concept; starting an office or organization focused on the National Science Foundation (NSF) Broader Impacts Criterion; focused on other agency or foundation broader impacts; or establishing a similar organization internationally based off an international broader impacts-like term or phrase.

Based on lessons learned, I have also provided seventeen (17) objectives, goals, or tasks below that should help you succeed in your broader impacts office or organization endeavors. It may also help you navigate potential unseen pitfalls along the way. Use this as a “Start a Broader Impacts Office or Organization Checklist”, as it is suggested that each item (i-xvii) be completed and assessed every year.

i. set up a viable, flexible, sustainable, and evolving infrastructure to meet university and faculty needs;

ii. determine organizational model, establish vision, mission, and value propositions;

iii. determine the number of primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences;

iv. establish a presence throughout your University and State as a broader impacts organization;

v. help faculty with all aspects of NSF broader impacts;

vi. help the university and state to understand broader impacts in general;

vii. establish the trajectory for successfully moving beyond the POC phase;

viii. determine and show the Return On Investment (ROI);

ix. establish evaluative and assessment protocols and strategies to determine sustainability;

x. develop a research-based approach to practice as it pertains to achieving societal benefit;

xi. develop relationships and partnerships with administrative leaders;

xii. develop an understanding and appreciation of faculty needs at your university, college, or in your specific unit (start doing this immediately!!!);

xiii. establish a university communication and response plan;

xiv. understand university structure and research office;

xv. assess if your organization is having a positive impact on the university, state, and national culture – international if applicable;

xvi. determine impact path of the organization;

xvii. develop a yearly report for upper administration summarizing i-xvi with appropriate examples and data, how it specifically links to their strategic plan or strategic action plan and university initiatives, the specific goals from last year and how they were accomplished, the specific goals for the next year, unexpected opportunities and challenges, and long-term goals in five and ten years.



[1]. Adetunji, O. and Renoe, S. (2017). Assessing Broader Impacts. MRS Advances, 1-6. Doi: 10.1557/ adv.2017.136.

[2]. Adetunji, O. and Thompson, M. (2016). The Broader Impacts Conceptual Framework (BICF) 2014 Lexicon Modification for the Brown University Engaged Scholarship and Broader Impacts Joint Committee Year End Report of 2015-2016. Brown University.

[3]. The Broader Impacts in Research (BIR) Organization. (2014). BI Definitions Guide: An abbreviated collection of explanations that begins to provide a common language when discussing, practicing, understanding, and better articulating the dimensions of broader impacts (BI). [Brochure]. [Norman, Oklahoma]. Thompson, M.

[4]. The Broader Impacts in Research (BIR) Organization. (2014). Broader Impacts Conceptual Framework (BICF) Lexicon. The University of Oklahoma. Thompson, M.

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