Communications Bootcamp 2018

Communications Bootcamp teaches you the most effective skills to become an ambassador for science outside the laboratory, while also improving your listening and leadership abilities. This series of four, 2-hour interactive workshops will cover communication strategy and listening, media interviews, op-ed writing, and social media.  This course will help you develop your “soft skills” in areas that will help you expand career options, whether in traditional academic research paths or outside of the academy.

Course capacity: 24*
Fee: $10

Dates & Times

Thursday, May 17th, 4 – 6 pm
Know Your Audience: The Superhero Power of Listening
Instructors: Julie Peterson, Peterson Rudgers Group, and Steve Edwards, WBEZ Public Radio

Listening is an underutilized skill, but used well it can deliver superhero powers! This workshop will teach participants the importance of having a clear message and understanding the needs and expectations of the audience. Participants will learn the power of effective listening to build rapport and understanding, and will practice concrete skills using interactive exercises and role play.

Thursday, May 24th, 4 – 6 pm

Using Media Interviews for Greater Good (and Not Disaster)
Instructors: Jeremy Manier, University of Chicago, and Julie Peterson, Peterson Rudgers Group

Many scholars and researchers engage with the news media, only to be disappointed in the result. While news reporters and scientists may have different goals, they need each other to offer the public accurate, authenticated information to build understanding of and appreciation for science. This workshop will use practice exercises and real-time feedback to teach participants how to do media interviews like a pro.

Tuesday, June 5th, 4 – 6 pm

In Your Own Voice: How to Write a Killer Op-ed
Instructors: Jeremy Manier, University of Chicago

As concerns about “fake news” proliferate, the public and the news media are increasingly seeking expert knowledge and facts. Scholars also benefit from an explosion of new digital media outlets seeking expert opinion. The result is more opportunities than ever before to share your ideas and analysis. This workshop will teach you about the channels available for op-ed placement, how they evaluate content, and what you can do to write a killer op-ed that will get used.

Thursday, June 7th, 4 – 6 pm

Crushing It on Social Media: How to Leverage the Power of Your Network
Instructors: Ben Rissman, University of Chicago

In the last two years we witnessed a strong trend of scholars using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media channels to effectively promote their scholarship. The headlines also share one horror story after another of faculty and students blowing up their careers with an unwise tweet or post. This workshop will teach participants how to avoid the dangers of social media, and how they can use social media effectively to promote their scholarly ideas and elevate the quality of public dialogue.


Ben Rissman, Assistant Vice President, Digital Communications, University of Chicago

As Assistant Vice President for Digital Communications, Ben Rissman provides strategic direction to ensure that the University of Chicago effectively leverages the power of digital and social media as communications platforms. Prior to joining UChicago, he spent the past decade leading global marketing agencies where he built and managed teams focused on digital marketing, social media, and interactive content. Ben is a proud graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


Jeremy Manier, Assistant Vice President of Communications, Office of the Vice President for Communications, University of Chicago

Jeremy oversees a staff that covers news in the humanities, law, social sciences, physical sciences, campus life, and many academic specialties around the University of Chicago. He is responsible for the University’s online news presence, including websites and social media accounts, and the University community’s daily interactions with the news media. Before coming to UChicago in 2008, he worked for 12 years as a science and medical reporter at the Chicago Tribune. Jeremy’s personal interests include playing funk bass and classical cello, spending time with his two children, and editing his wife’s fiction.


Julie Peterson, Co-founder and Partner of Peterson Rudgers Group

Julie A. Peterson is co-founder and partner of Peterson Rudgers Group. Prior to launching a successful consulting practice in 2015, Peterson spent more than 30 years in higher education leadership roles, as well as teaching and presenting on strategy, leadership, communications, and issues management. She has led communications for a wide range of topics across higher education, including academic medical centers, college athletics, student life, fundraising campaigns, admissions and student recruitment, civic engagement, diversity and inclusion, and the launch of new academic programs.


Steve Edwards, Vice President and Chief Content Officer of WBEZ Chicago Public Media

Steve Edwards is Vice President and Chief Content Officer of WBEZ Chicago Public Media, Chicago’s NPR member station and the home of such acclaimed productions as This American Life, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, Morning Shift, Worldview and Curious City.  Edwards returned to public media in August 2017 after spending five years at the University of Chicago’s non-partisan Institute of Politics, where he served as its Executive Director and oversaw the development of the popular The Axe Files podcast with CNN. 

*3/28/2018: Registration for this course has reached full capacity.  Further applicants will be waitlisted.

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