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SCOM432 The Craft of Storytelling

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website

A seminar-based paper that explores the requirements for the core skill necessary for the communication of science and natural history - telling a story.

This comprehensive paper focuses on the craft, commerce and culture of storytelling as the cornerstone of effective science communication, whether writing for traditional mediums such as publishing outlets and film or more unconventional venues. In addition to exploring practical wisdom on the tools of the trade, we will examine theoretical issues on the scientific study of narrative, including evolutionary, cognitive and neurobiological approaches. Along the way, we may have occasional online Q&As and conversations with professional "sciencetellers", who regularly weave stories into their work.

Paper title The Craft of Storytelling
Paper code SCOM432
Subject Science Communication
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,403.61
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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Restriction
NHFC 402, SCOM 402
Limited to
MSciComm, PGDipSciComm, PGCertSciComm, MAppSci, PGDipAppSci, PGCertAppSci
Notes
Normally available only by distance. Students intending to take this paper on campus should enrol for SCOM402 instead.
Eligibility

This paper is available only for those students enrolled in a programme of study with an endorsement in Creative Nonfiction Writing.

Contact

gianna.savoie@otago.ac.nz

Teaching staff

Dr Gianna Savoie

Paper Structure

Weekly Readings and Discussion
Each week will feature a selection of assigned readings, listening and/or viewing exercises. All students in SCOM 432 are expected to have read, watched and listened to these materials by the onset of each Tuesday's class and throughout the week to have engaged in critical online discussion (on Blackboard > "Discussion Board - Distance Students Only Forum") about this content with the instructor and other distance students.

Seminars
Seminars (approx 60 min) focus primarily on the science of storytelling and narrative, drawing from an interdisciplinary mix of empirical approaches, including anthropology, psychology and neurobiological research and theory. We will explore how the mind makes meaning and the key elements of narrative that make a story memorable, persuasive and transformative.

For those who cannot watch live, the seminars will be uploaded to Blackboard after each class and made available for you to watch at your convenience.

A range of assignments is designed to develop the student's narrative storytelling skills in the field of science communication.

Teaching Arrangements

One weekly 1-hour livestreamed lecture (also available for download) with discussion. In addition, all students in SCOM 432 are expected to have read, watched and listened to assigned media materials by the onset of each class and throughout the week to have engaged in critical online discussion on Blackboard about this content with the instructor and other distance students.

Textbooks

Recommended texts:

  • Curran-Bernard, S. (2015). Documentary storytelling: Creative nonfiction onscreen. Focal Press.
  • Coyne, S. (2012). The story grid: What good editors know.
  • Herman, D. (2013). Storytelling and the sciences of mind. MIT press.
Course outline
The course outline is advised at the beginning of the semester.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students will develop competency in the following areas:

  • Learn the key elements of an effective story, their theoretical underpinnings and how to infuse narrative into the practice of science communication
  • Participate actively in narrative activities (individually and in collaboration) that model effective science communication in the workplace
  • Understand how to apply technical information and knowledge for a variety of public audiences using the tools of storytelling
  • Practise the unique qualities of professional science communication, including conciseness, readability, clarity, accuracy, honesty, avoiding wordiness or ambiguity, previewing, objectivity, unbiased analysing, summarising, coherence and transitional devices
  • Understand the standards for legitimate interpretations of research data within scientific communities and know the ethics of the nonfiction narrative practitioner
  • Revise and edit effectively in all assignments, including informal media (such as emails to the instructor)
  • Receive critical feedback on creative work positively and in the constructive spirit in which it was intended
  • Develop professional work habits, including those necessary for effective collaboration and cooperation with other students, instructors and potential colleagues

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Timetable

Semester 1

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system
Blackboard