Diving Deep into Science Communication: RDC using Design Thinking for the Berkeley Science Network

How might we use design to help people communicate science better?

Conversations around how to best communicate science are becoming increasingly relevant. If you were to search online, you would find many articles explaining the different methods of communication. However, budding scientists must have the opportunity to practice the craft.

Research and Design communication skills practiced together.

By aiming to think of creative ways to communicate why people use and struggle with communication, what keeps them from doing so, and critically practicing their craft. As a part of this work, Reflex Design Collective had the opportunity to develop a design journey for the Berkeley Science Network’s Deep Dive,

Prompted by the exceptional Ira Young of the Berkeley Science Network, the BSN community heard back from students about how important (and difficult) it is to address the idea of science communication. As a result, the 24-hour retreat focused on opportunities, spaces, and practice around communicating their own personal research stories. So, ensuring the design workshop compliments the rest of the activities was critical.

After dynamic communication with the rest of the team, we decided to run the workshop early, to ensure the skills and experience of the workshop could be used for the rest of the summit. To ensure everyone feels welcome, we made a space that makes everyone feel equal, where they can openly talk about their experiences, and where they can have fun doing so.


We first asked our young research community the most important question: Why are you here?

To answer this question, we crowd-stormed with the community to figure out what they aim to learn from their peers. Everyone shouted out ideas as they came up; and critical themes about what they wanted out of the weekend eventually surfaced: learn from others, to build connections, to ensure their research is impactful, and to get over their fears.

That last topic transitioned well into the next main topic: What scares you about communicating?

For this question, we held individual brainstorming sessions on their personal fears about communication. They then focused in on one of those fears and shared stories with the other participants. These experiences gave members the opportunity to name and work through those fears, and learn about why they might be holding themselves back.

How can you make your research story better?

Now, here’s the fun part. We introduced a method for the first we called Stage Critique. Influenced by theater presentations, It’s a space where two community members talk through their personal research story, while an audience watches and critiques.

I went first, then got students at each table to do the same. The experience gives them a safe opportunity to learn about, and actively advise, their peers on their research stories.


All in all, it was a great experience. Reflex Design Collective is excited to broaden the types of fields which can find design thinking workshops useful. However, what we’d love to do is to continue the conversation, and learn how you communicate innovation, or innovate communication.

  • What methods have you tried to address this design issue?
  • What does communication success look like to you?
  • What new ways have you communicated which created unexpected consequences?

Come communicate with us, your friendly Reflex Design Collective!