This program will include two interrelated academic courses, accompanied by co-curricular site visits and extra-curricular activities. The academic course offerings will include:

This participatory course is taught by Patricia (Patty) Raun, Director of the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech, and Professor of Theatre, and Carolyn (Carrie) J. Kroehler, Associate Director of the Center for Communicating Science, instructor, biologist, and writer. Their work focuses on the use of the tools of the arts to develop communication skills, particularly in science and technology professionals, helping them discover ways to be more direct, personal, spontaneous, and responsive.

The course is intended to train students to communicate more effectively about their work in a variety of contexts. Areas of emphasis will include imagination, relaxation, observation, and concentration through improvisation. Written exercises will help students identify barriers to understanding, learn to see the work of others from new perspectives, and simplify their language without “dumbing down” their ideas. A greater awareness of the everyday tools of human interaction (tone of voice, body language, written and spoken word) will be gained through handouts, discussions, exercises, and improvisation. The students will develop their communicative abilities through careful observation, active class contribution, and committed participation.

Building on the content of the Communicating Science course, this advanced English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) course taught through the Language and Culture Institue (LCI) is designed to aid students in planning, organizing, and writing effective informative and persuasive documents in his or her own discipline. The multidisciplinary nature of the class promotes an awareness of rhetorical and language aspects in writing as opposed to matters of content.

To better understand and develop professional communication skills, principles of grammar and style vital for clear and concise scientific and technical writing are reviewed. Focusing on attention to audience and purpose, participants analyze and practice composing and revising correspondence, instructions, proposals, and formal and informal reports through participation in class discussion and collaboration in group assignments.