Krista Hoffmann-Longtin, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, IU School of Medicine; Mel Wininger, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI; and Jason Organ, IU School of Medicine

Principal Investigator: Krista Hoffmann-Longtin, assistant professor, Department of Communication Studies ,IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, Assistant Dean, IU School of Medicine

Co-principal Investigators: Mel Wininger, senior lecturer, Department of English, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI; and Jason Organ, Assistant Professor,  Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, IU School of Medicine

Project Title: Graduate Minor in Communicating Science

Funding Level: $15,000


Scientists, including both researchers and physicians, are required to connect to and engage with the public. Therefore, they increasingly need to tailor their communication for a variety of audiences. With learners, they must speak in a way that increases excitement about the content. With patients, they must deliver a clear message, while building empathy and trust. With funders and policy makers, they must communicate vividly about their work and its impact on the community. In every context, these experts must tell engaging stories, respond spontaneously to the needs of the moment, and explain their work in terms nonscientists can understand. To address this need, many universities have turned to the skills and techniques of improvisational theater in order to train scientists and physicians to speak and write more spontaneously, responsively, and engagingly.

The CEG will support the development of a graduate minor in communicating science. As communication and writing scholars, we combine established practice in applied improvisation, with communication and rhetorical theory, to deliver a curriculum that prepares graduate students to meet the challenges of an everchanging scientific landscape. This minor will serve as the foundation for an eventual certificate program that will be available, not only for graduate students in science and health professions, but also for postdoctoral fellows, clinical and research faculty, as well as science professionals seeking additional certification and training.