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Strategic Communications Academy for AI Faculty

Program Schedule Program Faculty EligibilityProgram Cost Program Application What are people saying about the SCA?

A communications course to help you:

  • Build credibility and strengthen your relationship with funders, donors, media and collaborators
  • Establish influence in your field
  • Gain skills to explain the purpose and value of your work to people with different expertise

Word art logo for Strategic Communications academy

Sign up for the Strategic Communications Academy for UF AI Faculty and take your communication skills and impact to the next level!

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The Strategic Communication Academy was a career-changing experience.

~ Dr. Melissa Armstrong, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology

Ann Christiano

Join Us and Develop Your Skills

For people who don’t share your expertise, AI can evoke uncertainty, confusion and even fear. In this professional development course, you’ll learn evidence-based methods to build understanding for your work among people with different expertise, including funders, donors, policy makers and collaborators.

This communications course is rooted in what cognitive, social and behavioral science tells us about how people learn, think, form opinions and what gets them to take action. Through interactive sessions and a final project, program participants learn and apply skills in the science of strategic communications, systems thinking, message development, TED-style presentations, communicating inclusively and building support for your ideas.

Skills you will learn include:

  • Build and manage relationships with the individuals and organizations crucial to helping you achieve your goals
  • Hone storytelling skills to inspire support for a department’s mission and vision
  • Create a strategic communications framework
  • Develop thought leadership in your field of study
  • Use design thinking and systems thinking to create meaningful calls to action
  • Communicate inclusively to build connections with diverse audiences
  • Create memorable and compelling TED-style presentations
  • Facilitate high-stakes meetings with “influentials” such as high-level administrators, policy makers, and funders
  • Think strategically in challenging communication scenarios

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The SCA assisted me with looking outside the box of how I traditionally communicate and explore new innovative ways of inspiring the audience. I highly recommend SCA to anyone interested in discovering a new and advanced way to communicate.

~ Lesa Phillips, Guest Services Specialist, Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Program Schedule

Program participants will meet in person once a month (October 2022 – April 2023)  in the Reitz Union on the main UF Campus for live workshops that include engaging learning activities, coaching sessions with UF communications experts and professional networking opportunities. Participants will complete a final project that helps them solve specific challenges and applies what they have learned in the program. The course resources are hosted through Canvas and monthly enrichment activities will reinforce the learning.

The science of communicating about AI
Building support for your work starts with helping others understand it.  In this session, you’ll learn the six building blocks of communicating effectively about complex and abstract ideas.
10/18/22 – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Strategy for science
Connecting with funders, journalists and collaborators can feel overwhelming and distracting. In this session, you’ll learn to concentrate your efforts where they can have the greatest effect.
11/15/22 – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Science of story
Stories are the best tools we have for helping people understand and remember complex ideas. In this session, you’ll learn the seven elements of stories that build understanding and inspire others to act.
12/6/22– 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Principles of effective data communication
Data is fundamentally abstract and challenging for the human mind to comprehend. In this session, we’ll share science-based principles for sharing data and developing visualizations that help others comprehend your work.
1/17/23 – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Writing TED-style talks and presenting with style
Learn the secrets to creating and delivering compelling presentations.
2/21/23 – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Building support for your ideas
Getting the resources you need to implement your ideas requires some counterintuitive thinking. In this session, you’ll learn the 10 steps to gaining others’ trust and confidence to get the resources you need to build your ideas. 
3/7/23 – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Meet withinfluentials
Holding a successful meeting with others starts with research and preparation. Learn to turn these meetings into lasting, fruitful connections.
4/11/23 – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Coaching office hours (Strategic Communications Framework)
Sign up for a half-hour, 1:1 session
Final project presentations 4/18/23 through 4/20/23  — Scheduled based on participants’ availability
Graduation and social 4/20/23 – 5:00 p.m.

The SCA has given me new ideas on how to communicate my program of research to colleagues within and outside UF.

~ Dr. Toni Glover, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing

Program Faculty

The SCA is led by faculty and staff in the Center of Public Interest Communications in the College of Journalism and Communications. The SCA team have deep expertise in research, strategy, pedagogy and media, and sessions will be driven by recent insights from psychology, sociology, and communications scholarship. The team also has substantial experience in live online teaching and incorporate important active learning methods to enhance the program.

Ann Christiano, MPAP
Director, Center for Public Interest Communications and clinical professor in the public relations department at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communication
Annie Neimand, Ph.D.
Director of Research, Center for Public Interest Communications, College of Journalism and Communications
Ellen Nodine, MAE
Director of Programs and Training, Center for Public Interest Communications, College of Journalism and Communications
Matt Sheehan, MBA
Managing Director, Center for Public Interest Communications and Journalism Faculty at the College of Journalism and Communications

Check out the program faculty bios to learn more about this team of instructors.


  • Applicants must be UF faculty members working on AI initiatives
  • Applicants must have support from their supervisors

Program Cost

This program is free to qualifying participants. The $1,750 value is being covered by the UF Artificial Intelligence Academic Initiative (AI² Center) for selected faculty. All materials and facilitation fees are included with no travel needed for those who live and work in Gainesville, FL.


If you have questions about the Strategic Communications Academy for UF AI Faculty, please contact:

Ellen Nodine, M.A.E.
Director of Programs and Training, Center for Public Interest Communications, College of Journalism and Communications
352-273-1098 | enodine@jou.ufl.edu

Program Application

The application is open now through September 23, 2022

Strategic Communications Academy Application

What are people saying about the SCA?

Participating in SCA this past year has been one of the highlights of my time here at UF. Communicating and translating our scientific findings for the greater good is one of the most important jobs of public universities. However, faculty, staff, and administrators are often not well prepared to communicate effectively. The strategic communication academy team provides this training. The SCA team worked with me and helped hone my communication skills, focus and refine my ideas and message, and provide me with a toolset that I can apply to my research, my teaching, and my service commitments here at UF. In addition, by participating in this training, I have been able to network with people all over the UF campus and learn more about our campus community. At the end of this year long training, I published an article that summarized 10 years of my research findings in The Conversation. My article has now been republished 38 times in outlets including The Washington Post, The Smithsonian, Scientific American, Quartz, Slate, and World Economic Forum. It was translated to French and republished 7 times in French speaking news outlets. To date, my article has been read over 330,000 times. I would have never been able to accomplish this without the training and guidance from the SCA team.

~ Dr. Lisa S. Scott, Associate Professor of Psychology

Best faculty development program I’ve participated in…plus it’s a lot of fun!”

~ Dr. Mustafa Ahmed, Director, Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, Cardiovascular Medicine

The Strategic Communication Academy was a career-changing experience. This was a very practical program; each session included approaches of immediate relevance to my work. Skills learned through the academy impact how I approach creating and sharing vision and also my presentation style. I implemented the project developed through the class within a week of my final presentation.

~ Dr. Melissa Armstrong, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology

My favorite part of the Strategic Communications Academy was spending time with my cohort! This was my first experience with so many folks from different disciplines for an extended period of time. The networking and relationships built during the academy is a great opportunity to make connections and create a more enriched campus experience for UF employees.

~ Alex Avelino, MAMC, Student Affairs Program Coordinator, Pre-Vet Advising, UF College of Veterinary Medicine

This class has helped increase my understanding of communication. It’s very informative, thought
provoking and creates a deeper sense of knowing how to communicate effectively. This class provides you the knowledge needed to make your communication skills STICK! If you are looking to enhance both personal and professional communication skills, this is the course for you.

~ Tanya Hughes, Associate Director, Facilities Services

This has been an incredible experience and one of the most valuable workshops I have attended. The instructors are excellent and have helped each of us identify and collect the ‘stories’ that are important for us to accomplish our goals and mission. I am excited to bring back to my library everything I have learned.

~ Valrie Minson, Chair, Marston Science Library

The program, instructors, and personal outcomes have moved my research and extension communication to new levels. I am now more purposeful, and I would like to think, more effective at conveying messages and eliciting calls to action. I would recommend the program to anyone who needs to strategically communicate, which should be everyone! Normally I have trouble staying off of my email and away from work for 8 hours of lecture and activities, but all instructors kept me on the edge of my seat. The cooperation and camaraderie you encouraged inspired me to do similar in my classes. I made new friends, developed new collaborations, and feel more inspired to stay at UF and use my voice to make a difference.”

~ Dr. Raelene Crandall, Assistant Professor, School of Forest Resources and Conservation

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