Science Communications

Communicating science couldn't be more important – and it's still hard to do well. Why not learn from the best?

The need is greater than ever to engage mainstream audiences in science. Goodness knows, the science community has been aware of this for decades. Why is it so hard to do?

Beakerhead science communications programs help you bust through real or perceived barriers that may be keeping your science stories secret!

Whether you are a scientist or a communicator, a Beakerhead program will help you engage new audiences through proven processes. We are as empirical about communications as we are about science – with a huge dose of creativity added to the mix.

Beakerhead science communications program are endorsed by NSERC and are eligible as a professional development activity for engineers.

BUILT ON THE BEST OF BANFF

The Beakerhead Science Communications Program is built on 10 years of experience with the renowned Banff Science Communications Program. It is supported by NSERC and offers intense, creative, audience-focused courses across Canada.

Don’t worry, every few years, the legendary two-week Banff intensive will still be held – and it will still be no holiday in the mountains!

JOIN THE SCIENCE COMMUNICATIONS MAILING LIST
FACULTY MEMBERS

Each course draws upon a pool of talent. Faculty members from previous courses include:

  • Jay Ingram, science writer and broadcaster, member of the Order of Canada
  • John Rennie, deputy editor of Quanta, former editor-in-chief, Scientific American
  • Nadia Drake, reporter, National Geographic
  • Thomas Hayden, Stanford journalism prof, co-editor of the Science Writer's Handbook
  • Christie Nicholson, guest lecturer, Alan Alda Centre for Communicating Science
  • Henry Kowalski, former Executive Producer, Discovery Channel Canada
  • Trevor Day, musician, improv coach and physiology prof, Mount Royal University
  • Rose Eveleth, producer of 30 for 30 Podcasts, ESPN
  • Maggie Koerth-Baker, senior science editor, FiveThirtyEight
  • Niki Wilson, science communicator, Jasper Dark Sky host
  • Dennis Cahill, artistic director, Loose Moose Theatre
  • Nancy Baron, director of science outreach, COMPASS
  • Rob Davidson, journalist, TV guy, writer and producer
  • Mary Anne Moser, founding director of the Banff Science Communications Program


EXAMPLES OF COURSE SESSIONS

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, participants prepare a one-minute (in other words, short!) “elevator pitch” and then edit/practice in groups of three before presenting it to the toughest audience in the world – a camera!

Personalizing the Impersonal

Science communication often focuses primarily on getting the science right. At its best it is powerful storytelling, with all of the profound and personal connections that make for great stories. This session encourages participants to ask why science matters to them, or, for that matter, to anyone else? Participants reveal something about themselves by personalizing their communication style.

Audience-Focused Communications

This is the linchpin of all Beakerhead science communications programs. Audience first. Is anyone listening? If so, what are they feeling and thinking? People are not science illiterate vessels waiting to be filled up with the correct facts. We build on respect for the audience and what it means to be as empirical about understanding audiences as we are about science itself.

Improv

Many science writers are asked to speak publicly and take their work to the stage. Here’s your chance to prepare! Except there is no need to prepare – it’s improv night. Inhibitions are kindly asked to leave the room.


LOCATIONS

Most courses are offered in partnership with a host organization that enriches the experience. Polar bears anyone? Or maybe some nighttime astronomy? Beers and Banff is a nice combination too. Most courses are “immersive,” which means overnight accommodation is part of the experience, even if you live just an hour away. These professional development opportunities are designed to have enduring impact through both their content and collegiality. Day-long courses are also offered if requested by a partner organization.


FEES AND FUNDING

The program fee varies based on location and duration. To roughly estimate, the fee for the course itself – faculty and content – is $500 per day. Room and meals are added to that. This program is supported by NSERC, and so you may notice that the overall cost is lower than what you might pay for similar high-quality professional development opportunities.

Scholarships are available for some programs.

Applicants are encouraged to look for funding available from their own employers, institutions and other sources, such as:

Canadian Museums Association Bursaries
Canada-Alberta (or other province) Job Grants


THE REVIEWS ARE IN. IT'S NO HOLIDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS

"I feel inspired and like my eyes have been opened to opportunities I didn't realize were out there."

"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 have a much better sense of what my strengths are as a communicator of science."

"I loved the program. Not to be hyperbolic but I have been singing praises since I got back. It was a very creative and I left with lots to think about."

"My Beakerhead Sci Comm experience is a mixture of awe-inspiring views of the mountains, combined with adrenaline-pulsing improvisational performance challenges. Back in my office now, I feel like the weekend-long program was transformational in some way that I don't believe has sunk in quite yet."


This science communications program is made possible with generous support from:






With scholarship support from:


REGISTER FOR AN UPCOMING COURSE

VANCOUVER
April 13, 2018
SFU Harbour Centre
Registration now open!
This course is offered as part of the annual Science Writers and Communicators of Canada conference. The course outline and faculty details can be found here.

Register here

BANFF
June 22 -24, 2018
Banff Centre
Registration now open!
A weekend program to take your presentation skills to the next level.

Learn More


CHURCHILL
October 17-22, 2018 (TBC)
Registration opens end of Feb
A week-long adventure program to increase your effectiveness as a science communicator. And polar bear spotter.

Learn More


HALIFAX

November 3 and 4, 2018
Nova Centre, Halifax
Registration summer 2018
Two one-day workshops aimed at students and postdocs as part of STEMFest 2018



Two-Week Intensive

Now on deck for 2019!

COURSE DATES: July 28 - August 11, 2019 (subject to change slightly)

COURSE FEE: $6,750 (includes accommodation and meals)

Add your name to the waiting list. When registration opens for the 2019 program, you will be sent details and a link to the application form.

TWO WEEK PROGRAM OUTLINE


PREVIOUS COURSES

BANFF 2017
SQUAMISH 2017
JASPER 2016