Communicating Science course Schedule, Fall 2014

Six graduate-level courses in Communicating Science will be offered by Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism in Fall 2013 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 the sciences. Tuition is covered for PhD students. We recommend that you take JRN 503 first, followed by JRN 501. Matriculated students can register through Solar; non-matriculated students can take these courses through the School for Professional Development. 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
Section 02: Thursdays Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov. 4; 5:30-8:20pm

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
Section 02: Wednesdays Oct. 29, Nov. 5, 12, 19, Dec. 3; 5:30-8:20pm

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
Section 02: Wednesdays Oct. 29, Nov. 5, 12, 19 and Dec. 3; 5:30-8:20pm

JRN 504 Communicating Science: Using Digital Media

How to use blogs, podcasts, Twitter and other forms of social media for two-way communication with different segments of the public. Includes hands-on instruction, tailored to students’ experience.

Wednesdays Oct. 29, Nov. 5, 12, 19 and Dec. 3; 5:30-8:20pm

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.

JRN 508 dates and times to be announced

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; 5-6pm

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.

JRN 512 dates and times to be announced

JRN 612 School of Medicine Elective: Communicating Health Sciences”

For medical, nursing and dental students, an introduction to effective communication using foundational Alda Center methods.

Meets for six three-hour sessions; dates and times to be announced