Communicating Science Course Schedule, Fall 2014

Seven graduate-level courses in Communicating Science to the Public are being offered by Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism in Fall 2014 in cooperation with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. They are 1-credit modules, which may be taken consecutively or separately. These courses are open to master’s and PhD students in science, engineering and mathematics. For PhD students, tuition is covered (in fall or spring semesters) if they are currently supported full time by their program (TA/GA/RA or Fellow) and have a full Graduate Tuition Scholarship. Enrollment requires pre-approval from your Graduate Program Director. Matriculated students can register through Solar; non-matriculated students can take these courses through the School for Professional Development.

We recommend that you take JRN 503 first, followed by JRN 501. If you have questions, please email

JRN 503 Communicating Science: Improvisation for Scientists

This innovative course uses improvisational theater techniques to help students communicate more directly and responsively. It’s not about acting; it’s about connecting with an audience.

Section 01: Tuesdays Aug. 26, Sept. 9, 16, 23, 30; 5:30-8:20pm
Tabler Blackbox Theater, Lydia Franco-Hodges and Louisa Johnson

Section 02: Thursdays Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30; 5:30-8:50pm
Tabler 107, Valeri Lantz-Gefroh and Louisa Johnson

JRN 501 Communicating Science: Distilling your Message


Students learn to speak clearly and vividly about their work and why it matters, in terms non-scientists can understand. Practice finding common ground with listeners and speaking different levels of complexity for different audiences. Includes a video interview with a journalist.

Section 01: Thursdays Aug. 28, Sept. 4, 11, 18, 25; 5:30-8:20pm
Melville Library N-4072, Christine O’Connell, Elizabeth Bass and Roxanne Khamsi

Section 02: Tuesdays Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov. 4; 5:30-8:20pm
Melville Library N-4072, Christine O’Connell, Carl Safina, Elizabeth Bojsza and Anne Machalinski

JRN 502 Communicating Science: Writing to be Understood

Students develop their ability to write about science or health for a public audience without “dumbing down” their material. The course focuses on such forms as letters to the editor, blogs and op-edits.

Section 01: Mondays Oct. 20, 27, Nov. 3, 10, 17; 5:30-8:20pm
Melville Library W-4530, Kristina Lucenko

Section 02: Wednesdays Oct. 29, Nov. 5, 12, 19 and Dec. 3; 5:30-8:20pm
Melville Library W-4530, Jennifer Albanese

JRN 504 Communicating Science: Using Digital Media

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Mondays, Oct. 20, 27 Nov. 3, 10 and 17; 5:30-8:20pm
Melville Library E-1337, John Timmer

JRN 508 Communicating Science: Engaging Key Audiences

This course is for students who have taken either JRN 501 Distilling Your Message or JRN 503 Improvisation for Scientists and want to build on the skills introduced in those courses. Through role-playing and other exercises, students will practice communicating with key audiences such as potential employers, students, journalists and public officials.

Thursdays, Nov. 6, 13, 20, Dec. 4; 5:30-9:00pm
Tabler 104, Valeri Lantz-Gefroh and Elizabeth Bojsza

JRN 509 Presenting Science Unplugged

This course is for students that have taken JRN 501 Distilling Your Message and JRN 503 Improvisation for Scientists, and want the full experience of working in front of a live audience. With group meetings and private coaching sessions, students will hone science presentations into 10-minute talks for a lay audience on campus, and 25-minute talks for a high school or library audience. Students must begin the class with a prepared talk ready for coaching and a clear vivid short description for marketing purposes. Each student will participate as a peer coach for one other student and will be required to attend at least one other talk off campus. To see samples from our pilot workshops, click here.

Initial group meeting: Wednesday, Sept. 3; 5:30-6:30pm
Melville Library N-4043, Valeri Lantz-Gefroh and Lydia Franco-Hodges

JRN 512 Creating a Video Abstract

Using only their own iPhone (or a provided iPod Touch) students will learn how to shoot and edit a 3-minute video about their science. Beyond the technical, the course will also teach the skills of video story-telling.

Tuesdays, Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov. 4, 11, 18; 3-5pm
Melville Library E-1337, Graham Chedd

JRN 391.S04/591/S04

This innovative course is open to undergraduate and graduate students who will be teaching assistants in CHE 321 Organic Chemistry I in fall, 2014. Improvisational theater techniques are used to help TA’s speak spontaneously and connect directly and responsively with their students. Exercises focus on paying attention to listeners and altering approach to meet their needs. TA’s will practice distilling their message by removing jargon and incorporating story-telling techniques. TA’s will be given small assignments to carry out in CHE 321 and post about their experiences on a discussion board. At the beginning and end of the course students will record a 90 second oral statement about a scientific topic that interests them, video recorded to measure progress.
Meets for 10 weeks on Mondays, 1-2:20pm
Frey Hall 316, Valeri Lantz-Gefroh