‘Radiolab’ creator Jad Abumrad to speak March 18 as part of CSET mini-conference

Jad Abumrad
Jad Abumrad

Jad Abumrad, creator and host of the Radiolab public radio program and podcast, will speak at the Student Life Center on Friday, March 18, as part of the Communication of Science and Technology program’s daylong mini-conference, “Improving Science Communication: The Promise of Science and Humanities Collaborations.” Abumrad’s talk, scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in Ballroom A, as well as the mini-conference are open to Vanderbilt University faculty, students and staff.

Abumrad, whose Radiolab program is broadcast on nearly 600 stations across the U.S. and downloaded more that 12 million times per month, will discuss crafting emotional stories while translating very technical and abstract information. Drawing from raw tape interviews with scientists, Abumrad will focus on the inherent struggles in science communication—what happens when you get it wrong, how to fix it, and why it’s useful to embrace error in the process.

Abumrad’s talk and the mini-conference are part of the Humanities Connection planning grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to the College of Arts and Science in spring 2020 to support work toward a significant revision of the curriculum in the Communication of Science and Technology program.

The “Improving Science Communication” mini-conference will begin at 8:30 a.m. March 18 in the Student Life Center Board of Trust Room. Leah Ceccarelli, professor of communication and director of the Science, Technology and Society Studies Certificate Program at the University of Washington, will give the keynote lecture at 9 a.m., and Vanderbilt faculty will give invited talks throughout the day.

Register for the mini-conference here. >>

In addition to the NEH, the March 18 events are co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, College of Arts and Science, and Department of Medicine, Health and Society.

Schedule of events—registration is required to attend any of the workshop events from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; the Jad Abumrad event is open to all Vanderbilt faculty, students and staff.

8:30–9 a.m. – Welcome, coffee and pastries.

9–10 a.m. – Keynote: “Cultivating Scientist Citizens: Viewing Public Communication of Science as a Civic Responsibility,” Leah Ceccarelli, professor of communication and director of the Science, Technology and Society Studies Certificate Program, University of Washington.

10–10:45 a.m. – Science communication panel: “The Challenges of Communicating Science During a Pandemic,” John McLean, Stevenson Professor of Chemistry; and David Wright, Stevenson Professor of Chemistry.

11–11:45 a.m. – “The Challenges of Interdisciplinary Team Teaching,” Bill Caferro, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in the Humanities, professor of classical and Mediterranean studies and professor of history; Celina Callahan-Kapoor, senior lecturer in medicine, health and society; Holly Tucker, Mellon Foundation Chair in the Humanities, professor of French and director of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities; and Caroline Randall Williams, writer in residence in medicine, health and society.

11:45 a.m.–1 p.m. – Working lunch and interest clusters: an opportunity for faculty interested in team-teaching to talk about potential course collaborations (e.g., “Science and Science Fiction”).

1–1:45 p.m. – “The Challenges of Communicating Climate Solutions,” Jonathan Gilligan, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences; and Michael Vandenbergh, David Daniels Allen Distinguished Professor of Law and director of the Vanderbilt Climate Change Research Network.

2–2:45 p.m. – “Experiential Learning in Science Communication Contexts: The Student Perspective,” a student panel.

3–3:45 p.m. – “Integrating Ethics in Science Communication: Varying Approaches,” Ole Molvig, assistant professor of history; and Misti Yang, Mellon Assistant Professor of Public Communication of Science.

4–4:30 p.m. – Science and humanities collaboration mini-grants discussion, a Q&A.

4:30–5:15 p.m. – Reception for workshop participants.

5:30 p.m. – “An Evening with Jad Abumrad,” Jad Abumrad, creator and host of Radiolab, Student Life Center Ballroom A.