VT hosts 24 German Fulbright Fellows

 "Communicating Science: Communication, Collaboration, and Connection Across Differences and Disciplines" is the focus of a German Fulbright summer institute on campus that began July 22 and runs through August 12. Student participants are recording their impressions and experiences in a group blog.

Virginia Tech's Center for Communicating Science, Cranwell International Center, and Language and Culture Institute have been  working together for a year to plan the program.

The Center for Communicating Science is providing academic content for the summer institute.  Center director Patty Raun and associate director Carrie Kroehler  meet with students three afternoons a week to facilitate their journey through a set of theatre-based exercises. The curriculum was designed to help the students develop confidence, awareness of themselves and others, storytelling techniques,  and  observation, listening, and concentration skills. Imagination, empathy, and vulnerability are central to many of the exercises. Working toward the production of videorecordings of individual presentations, the students are developing, distilling, and refining their messages; learning a variety of rehearsal and relaxation techniques; and working in small groups and partnerships for collaboration and feedback.

The summer institute also includes instruction in scientific and technical writing (an advanced English as a Second Language course through the Language and Culture Institute) and co-curricular site visits. Students are touring the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Sciences, the Biocomplexity Institute, the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, the Design, Research, and Education for Additive Manufacturing Systems (DREAMS) Lab, the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Site visits are tied to coursework through observation, reflection, and discussion exercises.

The students also have travelled  to the Floyd Country Store for Appalachian music, hiked to McAfee's Knob and the Cascades waterfall, eaten at the Homeplace Restaurant in the Catawba Valley, gone tubing on the New River, visited the Blacksburg Farmers' Market, and experienced Steppin' Out.

The German students are from a wide variety of disciplines, including various engineering fields; information technology; physics; business administration; communication, journalism, public relations, and media; social work; textile and clothing technology; and human-machine interaction.

The summer institute grew from a relationship between Cranwell's director, David Clubb, and program officers and others at the German-American Fulbright Commission in Berlin.

For more about the summer institute, visit Cranwell's German Fulbright website.  

(another version of this story appeared first in our Center newsletter)