Alda Center to launch Alda Online programming to foster digital science communication

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This month, the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University will launch a new series of programs designed to help scientists, researchers and medical professionals to share their science, and make online communication more personal and effective.

The new initiative, Alda Online, will offer a series of 3-hour live learning experiences designed to help scientists strengthen their communication skills. New programs will launch every two weeks throughout the spring and early summer, and focus on diverse topics including preparing for media interviews, working with policymakers, building a digital media presence, and connecting science and public health.

“In the past few years, we’ve been able to train 15,000 scientists to improve their powers of communication in dynamic face-to-face workshops. Now, just when good communication can save thousands of lives a day, face-to-face training isn’t possible,” said Alan Alda, actor, activist, author and founder of the Alda Center for Communicating Science. “Now more than ever scientists, researchers and health professionals need to communicate clearly and vividly with the public, with each other, with funders and with policy makers."

“For 10 years, the Alda Center has focused on offering face-to-face training to help scientists and researchers build trust and empathy, and share the wonder of science with their audiences,” said Laura Lindenfeld, Executive Director of the Alda Center and Dean of the SBU School of Journalism. “As we all adapt to the new reality of social distancing and isolation, the Alda Center team has developed a repertoire of offerings to create connection and share scientific discovery in a virtual environment.”

For the past decade, the Alda Center has offered one- and two-day science communication workshops for private clients, including universities, government agencies, non-profit organizations and corporate clients. During the in-person workshops, scientists, researchers and healthcare professionals learn strategies and techniques to help them share their work and its significance with a wide variety of audiences that do not share their particular expertise. Program participants engage with improvisational theater exercises to help them respond empathically to an audience, and message-design strategies to help them talk about their science clearly and vividly.

These same principles will apply to the new series of digital programming, most of which has been designed with the Center’s 15,000 alumni in mind.

“Around the world, including at Stony Brook, we’re seeing labs have to shut down and researchers have to disconnect from their life-changing and inspiring work,” said Lindenfeld. “Scientific understanding and inclusive conversations are more important than ever, as people around the world attempt to understand the novel coronavirus, its impact, and the quest for viable treatment options.”