A Picture is Worth 1000 Words — Teaching Science With Comics, with MK Czerwiec

For resources used in this presentation and more, please visit www.comicnurse.com/sciencecomics

Graphic narratives—also known as comics—are increasingly being used to unpack complex concepts and experiences. Despite the stigma of being thought of as juvenile reading matter (and not ‘real reading’ at that), comics actually have a long history of addressing complex topics. When serious graphic novels began appearing in the 1980s, they were met with great critical acclaim by both popular media and academia. A significant cohort of comics tackling scientific topics now exists.

By combining text and image, comics may be uniquely equipped to embody, explain, and contextualize. Graphic narrative utilizes text, visuals, compelling characters and their (hopefully) interesting stories to increase reader engagement and help bridge communication gaps. Thanks to many of the universally understood conventions of the medium, graphic narrative can also create opportunities for explaining and witnessing from multiple perspectives.

In this combination lecture and workshop, we’ll look at examples in which science meets comics, consider how and why comics can be used to communicate complex concepts in an engaging fashion. We’ll also explore what elements might make one comic better than another in communicating complex information. During the workshop, participants will be encouraged to take part in exercises involving making and sharing drawings, but no artistic expertise is expected or needed. All required materials will be provided.

This program is intended for scientists, professors, teachers, and anyone else who is interested in learning to communicate science in a new, compelling way.

MK Czerwiec, RN, MA is the co-manager of GraphicMedicine.org and co-author of the Graphic Medicine Manifesto from Penn State University Press. She is a guest cartoonist for the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, and the artist in residence at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She has been using comics in medicine since 2000.

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