Alda Center Courses at SBU

The Alda Center offers programs and courses for Stony Brook students interested in communicating their science in effective and compelling ways.

Graduate Students

Master's and PhD students in the sciences, engineering, math, and other research-based fields are encouraged to take courses in science communication. Some graduate programs require Alda Center courses.

Tuition is covered for PhD students (fall or spring semesters) if they are currently supported full time by their program (TA/GA/RA or Fellow) and have a full Graduate Tuition Scholarship. Enrollment in the course requires pre-approval from your Graduate Program Director. Masters students can also enroll and pay tuition as normal. Register through SOLAR. Non-matriculated students and professionals can enroll in our classes through Stony Brook University's School of Professional Development.

If you have questions, please email:

Advanced Graduate Certificate in Communicating Science

Graduate students pursuing master's or doctoral degrees in science, engineering, math, or other research-based fields may add this 12-credit certificate program to learn to share their science and their research in compelling and effective ways. Working professionals interested in completing the program as a stand-alone credential are also welcome to apply to the program.

Advanced Graduate Certificate in Health Communication

This 18-credit graduate certificate will help graduates qualify for employment in academic settings, research facilities, public health organizations, or health care institutions. Graduates also may serve as health communication experts in media, consulting and public relations settings. Working professionals will gain communication skills that will enhance their skills and help them advance within their fields.

Fall 2020 Alda Center Courses

Graduate 1-Credit Core Courses

JRN 501 Foundations of Science Communication I
In this team-taught, immersive science communication training, students will build skills to passionately communicate in a way that excites, engages, and encourages audiences to want to learn more about their work. Improvisational theater-based techniques are combined with message design strategies like distilling and storytelling, enabling healthcare professionals, scientists, and researchers to use strategy and spontaneity to execute powerful communication in any context.

  • JRN 501.02 – Fridays, Aug 28, Sept 4; 9:15am-5:15pm (In-Person)
  • JRN 501.03 – Saturdays, Sept 12, 19; 9:00am-5:00pm (In-Person)

JRN 503 Foundations of Science Communication II
In this immersive science communication training, participants who have completed JRN 501 will continue their foundations in science communication with explorations into engaging with key audiences and the media, as well as creating a presentation accompanied by compelling visuals.

  • JRN 503.01 – Tuesdays, Sept 22, 29, Oct 6, 20, 27; 3:00-5:50pm (Online)
  • JRN 503.03 – Mondays, Sept 21, 28, Oct 5, 12, 19; 2:40-5:30pm (Online)

JRN 513 Science of Science Communication
The U.S. National Academies has paid increased attention to the “science of science communication,” an interdisciplinary area of social science and humanities research and scholarship that spans a range of disciplines, including communication, psychology, decision science, mass communication, risk communication, health communication, political science, sociology, and science and technology studies, history, and others. This course is designed as an introductory survey course for graduate students in science, biomedical, engineering, and health disciplines to this interdisciplinary field. The key goal is to provide context on science communication research that can inform students’ science communication practices. Specifically targeted to students who are not communication researchers, this essential overview will help students understand the importance of linking theory with practice when they communicate about their own research.

  • JRN 513.01 – This class meets asynchronously Oct 26 - Nov 3 (Online)
  • JRN 513.02 –This class meets asynchronously Sept 14 - Oct 12 (Online)


3-Credit Graduate Courses

JRN 522 Communicating Science to Decision-Makers
Learning how to effectively communicate science to decision makers is increasingly important for scientists and health professionals. We are living in a time where we are facing large, complex, interdisciplinary scientific questions that require clear and vivid communication. Policy and management decisions must be based on sound science, whether it be speaking on a panel for local policy makers on coastal zoning and climate change, meeting with your Senator about increased funding for basic research and innovation, working with federal agencies to advise them on research advances to inform health policy, or talking to community groups about public health or environmental epidemics. This course provides you with the skills, practice, and knowledge you need to clearly and vividly communicate complex science to decision makers (e.g., Congress, local officials, community groups, etc.) in a variety of forums and settings. There will be interactive discussions, hands-on practice and activities around the role of science and policy.

  • JRN 522 – Thursdays, all semester, 3:00-5:50pm (Online)

JRN 534 Communicating Science Using Digital Media
Science and health information increasingly travels by digital media, as new ways emerge for scientists to communicate directly with the public, without the intermediaries of press or public relations. In this online course, students will learn how to be a more effective and engaged online communicator, so that their science can reach a greater audience in more meaningful ways. Students will also learn about the great potential and perils of social media, as they learn to think critically about the broader issues surrounding this medium. This course gives students a practical and hands-on approach to teach them how to use digital “tools of the trade” such as blogs, video, audio/podcasts, and social media platforms to foster two-way communication with different segments of the public, including colleagues in other disciplines. Using improvisational techniques combined with message design strategies for structuring content, students will create, practice and hone their science communication skills through this dynamic and interactive online course.

  • JRN 534.02 – Asynchronous, all semester (Online)

JRN 575 Special Topics in Science Communication
A seminar course on a current topic in science communication. May be repeated as the topic changes, but cannot be used more than once to satisfy requirements for the Advanced Graduate Certificate in Communicating Science.

Topic: Improvisation, Study & Practice. We’ll focus on the art of longform improvisation (creating a fully improvised show from a single source of inspiration) and how the skills and practice of it can be useful in other disciplines, communication and social life. No prior improv experience is required, but we’ll improvise each week, and by the end of the course, we’ll create our own forms.  

  • JRN 575 – Thursdays, all semester, 11:30am-2:20pm (Online)


For Undergraduates

JRN 365 Talking Science
This is a 3-credit course designed to help science majors learn to speak effectively and responsively with multiple audiences, from peers and professors to potential employers, policymakers and the lay public. Students will focus on communicating about science clearly and vividly, as well as develop skills that are central to oral communication on any subject. The techniques used include improvisational theater exercises that help speakers connect with an audience, paying close and dynamic attention to others, reading nonverbal cues, and responding freely without self-consciousness. Students will practice delivering their message effectively for different audiences, including defining goals, identifying main points, speaking without jargon, explaining meaning and context, responding to questions, using storytelling techniques, and using multimedia elements. Students will be videotaped at least once during the semester as part of the learning process. As a culminating activity, students develop and deliver an engaging short oral presentation on a scientific topic. This course requires active participation not only as speakers, but also as active listeners and constructive critics in a rigorous but supportive environment. Prerequisite: upper-division major in science, engineering, mathematics or health.

  • JRN 365.01 – Tuesdays, all semester, 4:45-7:35pm (Online)
  • JRN 365.02 – Wednesdays, all semester, 4:25-7:15pm (Online) 
  • JRN 365.03 – Thursdays, all semester, 9:45am-12:35pm (Online)
  • JRN 365.04 – Thursdays, all semester, 3:00pm-5:50pm (Online)

Email with any questions.