We have been offering Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) since 2012, with two sections now available both spring and fall. This course is capped at 18 students and is highly participatory, using theatre improvisation games and exercises as well as writing to help students become more effective at distilling their research and communicating it to non-specialist audiences. A focus on relaxation and deep listening helps participants make their communication more personal, direct, spontaneous, and responsive. The course provides opportunities for students to present their research to public audiences.
We hope to develop new graduate-level courses, focusing on social media, writing for a public audience, media interviews, and more.
TA 2404, Introduction to Applied Collaborative Techniques, was launched in 2017 and serves students across the broadest possible range of academic disciplines. The course applies principles of collaborative theatre performance within the context of a non-theatre focus. Students experiment with practice-based approaches to effective interpersonal and small group communication; interdisciplinary team creativity; iterative processes to develop audience connection; and innovation through improvisation. Special emphasis is placed on situational awareness, listening, effective storytelling in both scripted and unscripted work, team conflict resolution, non-verbal signaling, and communicating across difference. Students in the course use collaborative techniques in a variety of public and professional settings. The course meets Pathways 1a (Advanced Discourse), 6a (Critique and Practice in the Arts and Design/Arts), and 6b (Critique and Practice in the Arts and Design/Design).
". . .through the activities and exercises, not only I am learning valuable skills about communication, but I am also having the opportunity to build a comfort with just talking to people that come from a different 'world' than what I do." --Industrial and Systems Engineering graduate student
"I used to say I didn't want to go into academia. This was because I didn't have that teaching experience but also primarily because I don't like public speaking. Now that I am getting more comfortable with public speaking a career door is opening up. I won't let my fears hold me back." --Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise graduate student
"Thank you again for teaching this class. I feel like I learned so much and it really helped me get outside of my comfort zone. It's amazing to me that in just 10 weeks of class, I feel so much more confident and capable of communicating effectively with others. This is such an important skill to have and I hope your class continues to grow in the future." --Mechanical Engineering graduate student