Science Communications Program

It couldn't be more important - and it's still hard to do well. Here, you'll learn from the best.

The Banff Science Communications Program is a part of Beakerhead!

For the past 10 years, the co-founders of Beakerhead have run a renowned science communications program at the Banff Centre for arts and creativity. It has been an intensive two-week summer experience that is, in the words of the participants, transformational.


The program takes the best of Banff and offers the same intense and creative audience-focused approach to short immersive courses across Canada. Don’t worry, every three years, the two-week intensive will still be held – and it will still be no holiday in the mountains! Sessions are hands on and inspiring!


  • Jay Ingram, science writer and broadcaster
  • John Rennie, former editor-in-chief, Scientific American
  • Nadia Drake, reporter, National Geographic
  • Thomas Hayden, co-editor of the Science Writer's Handbook


Elevator Pitch

Blaise Pascal famously said, “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” In this session, we will begin by having participants prepare a one-minute (that is, short!) “elevator pitch” and editing/practicing them in groups of three. The pitch should be about the talk you want to give – why should anyone come to see it/fund it/care about it? What is it about and why does it matter? We will record each person on video.

Personalizing the Impersonal

Science communication often focuses primarily on getting the science right, but at its best probes the profound and personal questions about being human. The more intimately the communicator is connected to the science, the more powerful the audience response is likely to be. This session encourages you to ask why science matters to you, or, for that matter, to anyone else? In this session participants reveal something about themselves by personalizing their communication style.

Audience-Focused Communications

Before we dive into skill development, we get strategic – and empirical. We will discuss why audience is the first thing to consider in communicating about science, and what it means to be as empirical about understanding audiences as we are about science itself.


Many science writers are asked to speak publicly and take their work to the stage. Here’s your chance! Except there is no need to prepare –it’s improv night. Set aside your inhibitions and have some fun.


Each course is offered in partnership with a host organization that enriches the experience for participants through local arrangements. All courses are “immersive,” which means overnight accommodation is part of the experience, even if you live just a few kilometres away! The experience is considered part of the program structure and cost. There are scholarships available for those who apply.


"This program has been two of the best weeks of my life. Not only has it changed how I will communicate science and opened me up to many more experiences, it has also changed my everyday life. I cannot speak highly enough of this program."

"It has been an incredible experience. I am leaving here with a much better sense of what my strengths are as a communicator of science. "

"The experience has been enlightening and educational.:

"I am feeling so optimistic about my ability to communicate science effectively after taking this program. I have learned so much over the last two weeks from the faculty (truly invaluable information and mentorship), and have come to really understand where my skills lie where I can communicate science most effectively to audiences."

This science communications program is possible with generous support from:

With scholarship support from:


Presenting science in a way that is compelling takes skill, courage and creativity. Participants will work with the best in the business to develop an audience-focused approach.

Squamish Retreat

May 31 - June 3, 2017

In this four-day intensive, you are asked to arrive with a 750-word draft article to work on through the course. By the time you leave, you will have an article ready to pitch or publish!


This course is offered in partnership with Quest University.


Banff Retreat
June 9 - June 11, 2017

In this two-day intensive, you are asked to arrive with a 5-minute presentation to display your current public speaking skills as a base line for improvement.


This course is offered at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity


Maximum of 20 participants per course. Registration fee will be required to finalize your spot. Accommodation and meals are included in the registration fee. Scholarships are available.

Advanced Two-Week Intensive

Registrations for the two-week intensive will open in 2018.

Course Date: August 2018