In these field notes, we examine the integration of the arts into a 20-person honors biology seminar at UC Riverside “Beyond Science: Being Humane Amid Human Rights Crises.” We held a four-hour workshop to examine the ways in which performance and theatrical storytelling can enhance science learning. The workshop provided a unique avenue for exploring how human activities result in downward consequences including refugee displacement, one of the course objectives. In addition to the workshop, we conducted surveys and a focus group with the students to better understand their experience incorporating the arts into their science class. A key concept that arose in the focus group was how engaging with theatre contributed to students’ empathy.

Author/Artist Bio

Dr. Annika C. Speer is a professor of teaching in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production at UC Riverside where she runs the public speaking program. She is the Co-Director of the Public Speaking Initiative, a UC-Wide program based out of UC Santa Barbara that prioritizes interdisciplinary training in speech and rhetoric. In addition to academic work, Speer directs plays and conducts dramaturgical research for film. Dr. Begona Echeverria is a professor in the Graduate School of Education at UC Riverside. The daughter of Basque immigrants, her research is on Basque language, culture, and identity. She is a playwright, novelist, and singer-songwriter.

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