Academic Courses

This program will include an innovative academic course, accompanied by co-curricular site visits and extra-curricular activities. The academic course offering will include:

This participatory course is taught by Patricia (Patty) Raun, Director of the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech, and Professor of Theatre, and Carolyn (Carrie) J. Kroehler, Associate Director of the Center for Communicating Science, instructor, biologist, and writer. Their work focuses on the use of the tools of the arts to develop communication skills, particularly in science and technology professionals, helping them discover ways to be more direct, personal, spontaneous, and responsive.

The course is intended to train students to communicate more effectively about their work in a variety of contexts. Areas of emphasis will include imagination, relaxation, observation, and concentration through improvisation. Written exercises will help students identify barriers to understanding, learn to see the work of others from new perspectives, and simplify their language without “dumbing down” their ideas. A greater awareness of the everyday tools of human interaction (tone of voice, body language, written and spoken word) will be gained through handouts, discussions, exercises, and improvisation. The students will develop their communicative abilities through careful observation, active class contribution, and committed participation.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the Communicating Science course, students will be able to:

  1. Speak spontaneously and effectively to others about their disciplinary focus;
  2. Speak personally about their disciplinary focus;
  3. Apply theories of performance and improvisation within the context of technical communication;
  4. Distinguish and respond to indicators of audience comprehension and attentiveness; and
  5. Respond effectively in both individual and group interactions.