Teaching

WORKSHOPS

Trevor currently offers the following workshop in communicating science to the public. He has conducted versions of this workshop for senior scientists, post-doctoral researchers, PhD and medical students, and university undergraduates.

Workshop: Telling Science Stories


How can scientists communicate with the public and reach a wider audience?

The legitimacy of science is under attack just when strong science is needed more than ever to address global challenges. In response to this crisis, more and more scientists are trying to communicate directly to the public. But what is the best way to go about this? The hard, fact-based culture of science doesn't seem to adapt well to the fuzzy, emotion-driven culture of storytelling—and scientists don't want to compromise their objectivity or "dumb down" their work. As a result, many efforts by scientists to "educate" the public fail. Part of the problem is that scientists are not often exposed to the sorts of strategies and tools that writers use to engage everyday audiences.

This workshop will invite scientists to step out of the lab and think like storytellers. We'll consider: the reasons why certain stories and ideas capture attention and others don't; techniques for positioning a commentary or story in a larger public conversation; methods for overcoming the prejudices of readers; and concrete ways to use the wealth of raw storytelling material that science provides to good effect—including detail, scene, character, metaphor, tension, and big ideas about human existence. Finally, we'll talk about the gatekeepers—editors—who decide what gets published in the popular press and what doesn't, and what their needs and concerns are. Each participant will leave having written a five-point introduction for an opinion article or essay they want to write and submit for publication for a general audience.

Contact Trevor to inquire about hosting a workshop

Trevor's workshops typically last three hours and, as of 2020, typically take place via Zoom. Workshop length can be shortened for a tighter schedule or expanded to include more hands-on writing practice.

Learn more about Trevor's teaching here.

About workshop leader Trevor Corson

Trevor has taught science-communication workshops for the Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism at Harvard University, the Program in the History of Science and Medicine at Yale University, the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami, the Symbioses BioSocial Research Network, the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zürich, the Helsinki Institute of Life Science at the University of Helsinki, and other venues.

Trevor's own writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, and other publications and he is the author of two books of popular science writing, including the worldwide Amazon popular-science bestseller The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unravelling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean. His writing has been anthologized in The Best American Science Writing edited by the world-renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks, and a feature article Trevor wrote about brain death and organ transplantation received commendation in Best American Essays.

Trevor has taught science writing in the graduate writing program at Columbia University in New York City and the science and medical journalism program at Boston University's College of Communication. He has also taught opinion-essay writing for college students, mid-career adults, and senior scientists. For four years he was the managing editor of the literary magazine Transition at Harvard University; during his tenure Transition won three consecutive Alternative Press Awards for International Reporting and was nominated for a National Magazine Award in General Excellence.

Trevor was a Knight Fellow in the Investigative Science Journalism Boot Camp at MIT, and he holds a master-of-arts degree in writing, as well as a graduate certificate in philosophy of biology, both from Columbia University. He is also a member of NeuWrite, an international network of scientists, writers, radio producers, filmmakers, and artists working to develop novel strategies for communicating science to general audiences.