Why science needs story

22 september, 20-21.30

Randy Olson left his job as a scientist to launch a career as a filmmaker. Drawing on his unique experience, he argues that scientists may learn a lot from Hollywood. Unlike scientists, filmmakers understand the importance of narrative structure. That is why millions of people go to the movies and only ten people have read your thesis. In this lecture, Randy Olson teaches you how to turn the dull into the dramatic – something which, in his view, is just easy as ‘ABT’. In a nutshell, the ABT approach introduces momentum (And), conflict (But), and resolution (Therefore): the fundamental building blocks of story.


Randy Olson is a marine biologist-turned-filmmaker who earned his Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard University (1984) and became a tenured professor of marine biology at the University of New Hampshire (1992) before changing careers by moving to Hollywood and entering film school at the University of Southern California.

He has written and directed a number of short films and feature documentaries which have premiered at film festivals such as Tribeca Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival. Most of his films draw on his science background, involve humor, and address major science issues such as the decline of the world's oceans, the controversy around the teaching of evolution versus intelligent design, and the attacks on global warming science.

He has also published a number of books on science communication and narrative structure for scientists, including Houston, we have a narrative (2015) and Narrative is Everything (2019).