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SBI Persuasive Proposals: The Power of Narrative

SBI Persuasive Proposals: The Power of Narrative

Narrative structure is at the core of all communication and is central to writing successful proposals.  This is a 10 hour course (plus an extra 1.5 hours of Working Circles) in "narrative training" built around the ABT Framework which has been developed in the five books of scientist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson.  In particular, his recent book, “The Narrative Gym” arises from the course and is essentially the textbook.  The training has three main goals:  1) introduction of the narrative tools, 2) development of “narrative intuition,” and 3) social entrainment, fostering the practice of developing narrative in small groups rather than solo.  The course draws on science and non-science faculty, addressing both the science and art of narrative structure that is central to writing persuasive proposals.

The goal of this program is development of “narrative intuition,” where you not only know the elements of narrative, you begin to develop a practical feel for how they work.  The online sessions are half cerebral (presentations), half visceral (interactive critique exercises with the participants called “ABT Build Sessions”).  In addition to the 10 one hour sessions, each participant hosts a half hour Working Circle session with four participants to work specifically on the ABT narrative core of their individual project, as well as take part in two other Working Circles hosted by the other participants.  

The course is built around the ABT (And, But, Therefore) Narrative Template.  The training has a major Dunning-Kruger aspect to it in that it at first seems ridiculously simple — just three words.  But just like the D-K Curve, participants quickly realize “it’s not that simple.”  Narrative structure is infinitely challenging, yet also enormously rewarding.  Participants have breakthrough moments, realizing how ubiquitous narrative structure is, not just in proposals but throughout our culture.  We have a dozen faculty who play various roles.  In the words of one of the co-creators, Mike Strauss, former head of the Office of Science Quality Review for USDA, “The ABT Framework doesn’t just teach writing, it teaches thinking."

COURSE SCHEDULE:                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The class meets for five weeks every Tuesday and Wednesday at 4 pm eastern/1 pm Pacific for one hour, beginning April 20. The final class is on May 19. Participants will also participate in several Story Circles at a time of their choosing.

The course costs $400 per person.


Written request of cancellation must be emailed to by March 20, 2021.  Full refunds will be provided.

To begin the registration process, click on [REGISTER MYSELF/SOMEONE ELSE] and select the applicable registration type. Please note the [SAVE RESPONSES] button on the right side of the screen. You will need to click on the [SAVE RESPONSES] button BEFORE you Proceed to Checkout. If you see a message that you have missed some questions, return to the registration page, and enter your responses again and then click on [SAVE RESPONSES].  Should you have further registration difficulties, please email 


All attendees must accept the ESA Meeting Code of Conduct

4/20/2021 4:00 PM - 5/18/2021 5:00 PM