Science Narratives showcases the stories behind cutting-edge research

Imagine getting an intimate sneak peek at the research happening behind the scenes at one of the world’s largest research universities, as well as a glimpse at the human stories behind that research. Did we mention you can do it on your smartphone?

On January 25, UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies launched the Science Narratives project, which will offer free learning experiences to a broad audience, making use of UW-Madison expertise. Stories will be shared in the form of audio and video podcasts, focused on cutting-edge science and social science research and the human stories behind it.

The podcasts won’t be lectures, but fully produced, mini feature narratives.

The first season of Science Narratives addresses social robotics and highlights the work of Dr. Bilge Mutlu, associate professor of robotics in the Department of Computer Science and director of the Wisconsin Human Computer Interaction Lab. Dr. Mutlu and his colleagues use human-centered principles and methods for designing robotic technologies.

Dr. Mutlu, a former product designer, became inspired to think about how robotics technologies could be applied to solve human problems—and about how we must understand people’s lives to better design technology.

Each season of Science Narratives consists of five 3-5 minute video podcasts and one or two longer audio podcasts, which will be released monthly. Season one will span January to May 2016.

‘A new venue for lifelong learning’

Mutlu (right) with students at the Wisconsin Human-Computer Interaction Lab.
Mutlu (right) with students at the Wisconsin Human-Computer Interaction Lab.

An important goal of the project is to use the podcasts to help faculty meet some of the outreach requirements of their grants in a new way, through digital channels and short media, according to the assistant dean of academic affairs in the Division of Continuing Studies, Mary Thompson.

“We want to provide a digital space for our faculty to share their research through stories that matter. We hope viewers and listeners will be delighted to learn more about the vast array of research at UW and leave wanting more, because we have piqued their intellectual curiosity,” said Thompson.

“Faculty with funded research can disseminate their research and meet certain broader impacts requirements with Science Narratives. At the same time, the Division of Continuing Studies will provide a new venue for lifelong learning.”

Science Narratives is a collaborative project of the Division of Continuing Studies, DoIT Academic Technology, and Storybridge.TV.