Based on a popular and longstanding course at Brown for students in the sciences who want the skills to explain the science and technology that shape our lives, the overarching goals of this course are to learn how to make complicated issues more understandable and to learn how to communicate best to the general public in a world of facts and "alternative facts," moving rapidly through web and social platforms.
Lessons and assignments help students learn to read scientific research papers and other scientific publications; interview scientists and physicians; interpret work/findings for a broad-based, non-scientific audience; and structure compelling stories that clearly communicate research and engage the general public via print, web and other media. There are several writing and rewriting assignments.
In addition, we analyze and discuss fair and best practices in science and medicine storytelling and the challenges of covering science and medicine for mass media. Also, we examine the role of scientists and physicians in public discourse; how academic, peer and other pressures influence science and medicine communications; and explore publishing’s changing landscape, with emphasis on writing for the web and for social platforms. Students learn to edit and to act as editors together, giving and receiving peer feedback singly and in small groups.
The instructor will share knowledge and expertise gained as a writer and storyteller, with more than 1,500 stories published in newspapers and magazines; and on radio, television, web and social platforms. The instructor continues to write, with stories published in print and online weekly.
This course is a solid communications opportunity to learn how to interpret complex information in order to explain it simply. Such a skill will serve any student, pursuing science studies or not. Plus students will learn how to tell stories, using frameworks for not only science, medicine and the environment, but for any and all topics.
•Learn to interpret science for non-scientific audiences
•Explore using all forms of news media and social media to make science accessible and to share your stories with others
•Understand what it means to be a responsible-to-your-audience communicator
Prerequisites: •Professed interest in communicating science simply.
•Professed interest in cultivating curiosity.
•Non-fiction writing courses, and especially writing experience, are a plus.