The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science (CCS), part of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism, held a workshop in February to help scientists to communicate their research to the public. The workshop, featured in the Science section of The New York Times earlier this month, highlighted many of the techniques that Marine Conservation and Policy (MCP) Master’s students learn during the Communicating Science courses they take at the CCS during their degree.

School  of Journalism in NYT

Alan Alda leading an improv exercise at a workshop last month. Photo by Uli Seit, The New York Times.

Alan Alda, a well-known actor from the T.V. show M*A*S*H, helped to establish the CCS, which aims to teach scientists how to engage non-scientific audiences and share a clear and meaningful message about their work, in 2009. Alda pioneered the use of improvisation, or “improv”, exercises to train scientists to connect with — and react to– their audience. By paying attention to their audience, scientists can learn to gauge levels of interest and understanding and then adjust their talk accordingly. Scientists learn to talk with their audience, rather than at it, to ensure the successful delivery of their message.

The CCS trains scientists across the country through workshops, but also trains students at Stony Brook with a variety of course offerings, including “Improv for Scientists,” “Distilling Your Message” and “Knowing Your Audience,” among others. All MCP students take at least one communication course from the School of Journalism before graduating. These courses have allowed MCP students to become effective communicators in conservation and policy issues, giving them a competitive edge over others in the job market.

View the full New York Times article here.