Creative Nonfiction/Narrative: Forging a Working Bond between Next Generation Science Communicators and Next Generation Science Policy Scholars

Communicating science to the general public is difficult. But communicating science policy creates even more complexity and challenge for many reasons including the public’s incomplete understanding of the ways in which policy is conceived, shaped and adapted, how economics are fused with potential actions and how policy outcomes are evaluated and measured. Compounding the problem, science policy scholars are often not experienced nor necessarily comfortable talking to the general public. Complicating matters is the fact that science writers are generally more interested in reporting applied science and not policy, of which they may be less unaware.

We will discuss the “To Think, To Write, To Publish,” a program that bridged those multiple gaps by establishing 12 collaborative 2-person teams comprised of a “next generation” science policy scholar and a “next generation” science writer–to learn creative nonfiction/narrative techniques and to write a creative nonfiction essay together, utilizing the scholar’s research. The results: Writers learned much more about the process and importance of research and the key influence of policy–and scholars learned about how to utilize creative nonfiction storytelling techniques to reach a general audience and make policy more accessible. A well-established policy magazine which heretofore had not published narrative has so far accepted for publication the first group of those essays. An online creative nonfiction social action journal will soon be started by one of the program’s participants. A follow-up and expanded program is in the planning stages awaiting funding.