To Think, To Write, To Publish is supported by a generous grant from the National Science Foundation. This project, which comprises a two-part, multi­day conference and workshops, will bring together 12 emerging “next gen” communicators and 12 early career scholars—as well as creative writing professors and graduate students, museum professionals, and editors of mainstream publications to discuss the value and advantages of communicating science and innovation policy (SIP) to general audiences with creative nonfiction writing that uses narrative, scene and storytelling to engage and inform readers. The goals of the workshops are to provide opportunities for the scholars and writers to work together, to understand the processes of research and writing for general audiences and to have their work showcased in a major, nationally distributed publication.

Has To Think, To Write, To Publish been done before?

Communicating science to the general public is difficult.  But communicating science policy creates even more complexity and challenge for many reasons including the public's incomplete understanding of the ways in which policy is conceived, shaped and adapted, how economics are fused with potential actions and how policy outcomes are evaluated and measured.  Compounding the problem, science policy scholars are often not experienced nor necessarily comfortable talking to the general public. Complicating matters is the fact that even writers interested in science are generally more interested in reporting applied science and not policy, of which they may be less unaware. And writers generally are unaware of the issues surrounding policy. And if the writers and reporters are not motivated or aware, then the editors and publishers are often in the dark re policy and will not assign or encourage policy-oriented stories. This is a multi-faceted problem that requires a unique, collaborative approach. 

To Think, To Write, To Publish is an experimental program introduced in 2010 and continuing into early 2012. The results: A well-established policy magazine that heretofore had not published creative nonfiction/narrative has published four of those essays.  An online creative nonfiction social action journal and an informational creative nonfiction science and technology website were launched by two of the program's participants. Another “next gen” participant has become publisher of a medical science oriented book series. Communicators and scholars have been offered other writing opportunities and multiple speaking engagements.

Meet the participants and learn about the previous program and its success at www.ThinkWritePublish.org  


The fastest growing genre in publishing today, creative nonfiction writing has the power to bring complex scientific ideas, “wonky” policy papers and less than exciting academic literature to broader audiences through true storytelling. It brings together people, ideas, descriptive setting and action to make research understandable and alive to the people who will benefit the most from research—the general public. Lewis Thomas. John McPhee, Atul Gawande, Tracy Kidder, Oliver Sacks, Annie Dillard, Diane Ackerman are master examples of the form.

Creative nonfiction techniques provide the public with another access point to learn about and understand the emerging science and policy that may affect their lives. Access to this information is critical for our nation’s voting constituency and essential to a functional representative democracy. To Think, To Write, To Publish advances these goals in a small way by continuing to develop access portals for the public to tap into science and policy innovations, discussions and debates.


Sponsored by the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University and supported by a generous grant from the National Science Foundation.

Co-sponsors: the Creative Nonfiction Foundation and The Writer’s Center

What is it?

A yearlong program, supported by the National Science Foundation, featuring two multi-day workshops in Washington, DC and Tempe, Arizona. Twelve emerging communicators and 12 early-career science and innovation policy scholars will learn about creative/narrative nonfiction storytelling techniques; meet with and learn from creative writing and science journalism professors, museum professionals, and editors of mainstream publications; and collaborate, in scholar-communicator pairs, on narrative essays to appear in a nationally-distributed publication. 

Each workshop will include a keynote event and sessions led by prominent narrative/creative nonfiction writers, teachers, editors and agents, featuring Lee Gutkind, “the godfather behind creative nonfiction” (Vanity Fair) and the founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction.

This is a unique and challenging opportunity open to next generation science and innovation policy scholars and next generation communicators working in any genre(s) and interested in science, technology and the social sciences. All participants will receive an honorarium plus travel expenses to the workshops.

To Think, To Write, To Publish will help writers learn much more about the process and importance of research and the vital importance of policy, and scholars learn about how to utilize creative nonfiction storytelling techniques to make science policy more accessible to a general audience.  

Workshop schedule:

Washington, DC: October 3 - 7, 2012

Tempe, Arizona: May 15--19, 2013 (Arizona State University)