Theatre Tools for Communicating Science

“Vicarious experience via story is second only to first hand experience for getting a message across. The Center for Applied Theatre takes this to the next level, and has been able to help scientists craft and present more effective messages."
- Jack C. Schultz, former Director of the Christopher S. Bond Life Science Center, University of Missouri

Question: Who cares about communicating science? 
Answer: If scientists don’t, then nobody else will

Purpose

If scientists want their research to have an impact on policy makers, the general public—and the foundations and government bodies that give grants—they need to communicate the significance of that research in language non-scientists can grasp.  They need to connect with their audience, not hide behind power points and statistics. And who better to teach the connection between presenters and their audience than those that engage an audience for a living?

Movement

Among the leaders of the current nationwide “communicating science” movement is actor Alan Alda, who has promoted theatrical improvisation as a way to help scientists learn to engage more successfully with audiences. Applications of actor training methods help people overcome fear of speaking in public, develop spontaneity, and connect with an audience. Theatre improvisation is now being taught around the country as communication training for graduate students in a variety of fields. 

At Mizzou

Center Director Suzanne Burgoyne attended a summer institute at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and participated in a recent NSF grant to evaluate MU’s method of teaching science communication to grad students. but she has also been leading workshops applying theatre skills to training in public speaking and faculty development since the 1980s.  Our Center for Applied Theater and Drama Research has conducted communication workshops for classes, science faculty, and conferences. The workshops are fun, too! 

Contact us to discuss how to tailor our workshops to meet your needs.