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We Trained 80 Scientists to Tell Stories. Here’s What Happened.

Understanding the science of storytelling can help scientists explain the value of their work and why it matters. It can help them understand how people make decisions and form beliefs. If scientists used everything we know about why stories are engaging and impactful, imagine the effect  they could have on their communities.

The frank Academy team spent one week in June helping 80 program officers and scientists at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) find their stories.

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NIFA, the grantmaking arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides support for programs that advance agriculture-related sciences. Under the direction of Frank Karel Endowed Chair in Public Interest Communications Ann Christiano, the frank Academy team included experts in strategic communication,  journalism, curriculum development and social science from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and Burness Communications.

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The training offered by frank Academy is rooted in social and cognitive science which creates a unique experience for participants. The day-long trainings helped scientists and program officers explain to their specific communities the value of their work and why it matters. Participants learned about the science of storytelling, how people make decisions and form beliefs, and how to use both to develop their communication strategies.

Hands-on activities, improv, games and roleplaying kept the participants engaged in active learning throughout the day-long sessions. Topics covered included strategic and visual communication, presentation techniques and story building.


The frank Academy has provided tailored trainings to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences and the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and their grantees and is currently training UF scientists and program leaders in a 12-month program.

The team has also presented portions of this training at the Association of Independent Research Institutes conference, The Knight Foundation’s Media Learning Seminar, the
Association for Communication Excellence and will present at the Nonprofit Management Institute
in September

For more information on trainings visit the frank website, or contact Ellen Nodine at enodine@jou.ufl.edu.

Posted: June 5, 2017
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