Telling your Research Story

Telling your Research Story

06 March 2024

On 6th of March 2024, the Dialogue Centre brought together physicists, biologists, theatre theorists, political scientists and sustainability experts for an experiment. Could theatre games help us at Aberystwyth University connect and tell better stories about our research? Could these approaches work in Wales?

Here is what Dr. Jennifer Wolowic had to say after the workshop:

“Today, I had the beautiful pleasure of experiencing Patricia Raun of Virginia Tech’s Centre for Communicating Science in action.

We opened the session by breaking bread together and then entered a space of great discomfort. Patty asked us to vividly move our bodies and gave us permission to step into and take ownership of our expertise. We resisted. She persisted. We resisted. She persisted. She gave us inspiration to be brave.

Then she gave us permission to fail. Not just fail, but celebrate failure and celebrate it as loud as we could. Celebrate it together. And through that failure, connections were made. We were reminded of the importance of listening, eye contact, and trying new things as collaborators working together. And yes, sometimes you fail and that’s OK.

Then we told stories—first about ourselves, then in ways that helped us take ownership of being on stage and making people laugh. And what laughter we had—deep, loud, and full of joy! We were still a little uncomfortable, but there was more fun in the discomfort now.

Connections and relationships were transforming.

And finally we came back to research. Sharing why our work was personally important to us, why it was important to the field, and then why it was important to the world. We shared and then listened as our partner summarised what they heard. The centre of our descriptions were starting to shift. Away from methods and jargon towards connection and impact.

My own answers shifted as well. When it came time to report back, my partner summarised: ‘The Dialogue Centre is important because it helps us be brave.’ My heart smiled.

I believe the experiment worked. We saw positive shifts in each other’s bravery and empowerment. And we shared a lot of smiles. Thanks to Patty, I will be bringing more body work and theatre games into my personal practice, my facilitation, and workshops inside and beyond our university.

Patty may have been in Aberystwyth for only a few days but our connection is forever. I am beyond grateful and can’t praise her work enough.”