Communicating with Media, Funders,
Policymakers, and the Public
Thursday, January 11
Coffman Memorial Union
Land-grant research universities like ours were created to share knowledge with the broader community. It is part of our mission and something we all care deeply about. For scientists and researchers, that call to communicate has taken on special resonance in recent years as debates about vaccines, evolution and climate change point to a divergence between scientific consensus and public opinion.
Speaking Science is a science communication conference designed to help scientists, engineers, and other researchers develop stronger storytelling skills that will make their work understandable and compelling to the media, thought leaders, potential funders and general audiences. The conference is specifically designed to provide faculty, post-docs and graduate students across the University of Minnesota with a unique opportunity to learn how to better communicate their science to audiences beyond the academic community.
The one-day conference will feature a keynote speech by New York Times columnist Carl Zimmer, interactive training, and break-out sessions that include mock interviews with local journalists that will provide participants with invaluable feedback about how to frame their research in the most compelling way possible.
What You Will Learn
In interactive and small-group sessions, you will explore and understand the techniques of effectively telling the story about the impact of your research.
Build Your Storytelling Toolkit
- Identify your “big idea.”
- Transform technical language into accessible information.
- Talk about your research by telling stories that everyone will understand.
Focus Your Message
- Determine the purpose in telling your story.
- Clarify the action you would like people to take after hearing your story.
- Discover new ways to craft your message to engage your audience.
- Develop a short, understandable summary of your research.
Define Your Audience
- Find and define your audience.
- Determine where to tell your story.
- Discover what stories resonate with various audiences.
- Build a plan for promoting your research.
Morning Media Panel
Our opening will feature an all-star media panel and we are thrilled that Elisia Cohen, the new Director of the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication will be moderating. Here are our special guests:
David (Twin Cities Public Television) is a Special Correspondent whom spends his time rummaging in the crawlspace between reporting and cartooning. The resulting Illustrated Essays have received four regional Emmy awards for Commentary and three First Place recognitions from Capitolbeat, the National Association of Capitol Reporters. His work can be seen on Almanac, Almanac: At the Capitol and Nightly Business Report.
Maggie is a senior science editor at FiveThirtyEight and was previously a science editor at Boing Boing and a monthly columnist for The New York Times Magazine. Koerth-Baker is the author of the 2012 book Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us.
Don (formerly of WCCO) is an experienced investigative journalist, as his work has earned two Peabody awards and an Emmy Award. Shelby was the chief architect behind WCCO’s “I-Team” segment, which spotlighted current issues, both local and on a larger world scale, with rigorous investigative journalism.
Keynote Speaker: Carl Zimmer
Carl Zimmer writes books, articles, essays, and blog posts in which he reports from the frontiers of biology, where scientists are expanding our understanding of life. Since 2013 he has been a columnist at the New York Times, where his column “Matter” appears each week. He is a popular speaker at universities, medical schools, museums, and festivals, and he is also a frequent on radio programs such as Radiolab and This American Life. In 2016, Zimmer won the Stephen Jay Gould Prize, awarded annually by the Society for the Study of Evolution to recognize individuals whose sustained efforts have advanced public understanding of evolutionary science.
Zimmer is the author of twelve books about science. In 2015, the University of Chicago Press published the second edition of his book, A Planet of Viruses, updated with sections on Ebola, MERS, and other viruses that have recently been in the news. Reviewing the book, the Washington Post declared, “Science writer Carl Zimmer accomplishes in a mere 100 pages what other authors struggle to do in 500: He reshapes our understanding of the hidden realities at the core of everyday existence.”
Among his other books, Zimmer is the author of Soul Made Flesh, a history of neuroscience. It was named one of the top 100 books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, and dubbed a “tour-de-force” by The Sunday Telegraph. Read his full bio here.
COMPASS Science Communication Message Box
COMPASS helps scientists build the knowledge, skills, and networks they need to effectively engage in the public discourse about the environment. The COMPASS Science Communication Message Box Training will prepare scientists to share what they do, what they know, and, most importantly, why it matters in clear, lively terms. Grounded in the latest research on science communication and policy engagement, this in-depth, interactive session will empower you to find the relevance of your science for the audiences you most want to reach – journalists, policymakers, the public, leaders within your institution, and even other scientists. We will introduce the Message Box, a simple but powerful tool to help you distill what you know and why it matters for your particular audience, and walk you through hands-on practice. Stephen Posner will be conducting the training. Read his bio here.
Interacting with Funders
The landscape of funding research and programming has shifted dramatically in the last decade. Learn strategies and best-practices to better engage with funders, cultivate relationships and identify new ways of generating revenue for the kinds of impact you are driven to create. Our panel includes experts representing a range of funding specialties.
Science as Story and Story as Science: Telling Research Stories
As scientists, educators, and communicators we have all heard the adage “we should be telling our story and educating people about science.” But for some, storytelling (especially when it is about our research) seems daunting. Who is the audience? How can I make my science accessible without ‘dumbing it down’? How can I get my message out there? Come to this session to learn what research tells us about how to craft narratives to increase comprehension, interest, and engagement.
Your Life Online
What is the world is finding out about you online? How can you be more strategic about that? How can the internet help you advance your career? This workshop will help you think broadly about your online presence and the world of social media.
Interacting with the Media
You have interesting stories to share — stories that can help make the world a better place. And journalists can help you share your story, especially if you help them do their jobs. In this popular Boreas workshop, you’ll get to meet, conduct mock interviews with and learn from local reporters. Learn how to pitch stories and give a great interview.
Building Better Presentations
IonE communications director Todd Reubold has been helping raise the quality of presentations at the University for years. Now you, too, can benefit from his insights and coaching. Learn presentation design and delivery best practices. Explore presenting to scientific and general audiences. Improve one of your own presentations.
Prince from Minneapolis features photographic images of the late, acclaimed, and globally celebrated musician made by Twin Cities-based photographers.
Planned in collaboration with the Spring 2018 University Symposium Prince from Minneapolis the exhibition considers the forces at work in Minneapolis that helped allow for, and shape Prince. The exhibition explores through the images, many taken in the Cities, and attendant mappings projects also on display, the superstar and this place he called home.
WAM is proud to partner with its University faculty colleagues to present this unique look at one of the most gifted, enigmatic, and well-known performers and activists in Minnesota and U.S. history. The joint projects assert that appreciating Prince’s impact can provide a window on fundamental questions in U.S. and Minnesotan society. By understanding where Prince comes from we can further create a space for reimagining social change.
Tickets are now available. Sponsoring colleges and units had advance access to tickets. During the pre-sale, we did sell-out of spaces available to graduate students and there are a limited number of spaces open for faculty and post-docs.
Faculty and post-docs
Advance tickets for co-sponsoring colleges and units – $25
Regular price tickets – $30 (after Nov. 15)
Advance tickets for co-sponsoring colleges and units – $15
Regular price tickets – $20 (after Nov. 15). Unfortunately, we completely sold-out of tickets for graduate student during the pre-sale.
Graduate and professional student participants do not receive academic credit for Boreas short courses or workshops. You can earn a Boreas certificate, though, and include your participation and skills development as part of your resumes, CV or portfolio.
Participating in the full-day conference fulfills all the workshops required by the Communications and Media portion of the certificate.