Online workshop teaches MSU researchers to explain what they do

Scientists at a Knight Center workshop in Rwanda learn to communicate their research. Image: David Poulson

By David Poulson

Ever wish the public better understood the science and research you produce?

Both are far too important to confine to researchers and academics. Building a public constituency for them is key to making good decisions and policy. It is also important for advancing your career.

MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism offers a free online workshop this summer to teach MSU students and faculty to engage public audiences with science and other research.

For a limited time it is open for free to the first 10 MSU graduate students or faculty members who sign up by July 8. It runs July 13 to Aug. 9 and takes about two hours a week – your choice of which hours.

You’ll learn writing techniques for explaining complex ideas in a way that engages people who don’t care now – but will after you learn to make them care.

Dave Poulson, Senior Associate Director Knight Center

You’ll focus your message. We’ll show how your research writing can be repurposed for public audiences. And we’ll even show you a few simple tools for producing video stories of your research.

You earn a certificate of completion. But the key thing you gain is a story of your research or science that you can re-purpose for general interest venues, teaching, grant proposals, news stories, your blog or another public-facing publication.

Reasons to learn this stuff:

  • You have far greater impact when you turn that journal article into something read by people otherwise unfamiliar with your field. You already have a built-in audience of experts in your domain. Expand it to people now oblivious to your important work.
  • Your grant proposals will become more focused, compelling and successful when you score more points for broader impacts and give grant reviewers an easier read.
  • The more people know about your work, the likelier they are to benefit from it. They are also more likely to support it and to support science generally.

The online nature of the program means you can do it in about two hours each week. You pick which hours.

The cost is free to the first 10 candidates who are selected, with the caveat that you fill out a post-workshop evaluation. We’re seeking the feedback as we shape and expand similar efforts.

To apply, send this information to Knight Center Administrative Assistant Barb Miller,

Field of study:
Class level or academic title:
Describe a project or area of study you hope this workshop helps you better communicate to the public:

Questions? Contact David Poulson, the senior associate director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, at

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