The Rotman Institute of Philosophy was established to bring philosophers into productive engagement with scientists, policy makers, and the public. But even as its faculty tackles profound issues, the Institute was challenged by the question of how to engage non-experts with research that is highly complex and abstract.
Collaborating with Rotman faculty, the administration, school leadership, and graduate students, Bridgeable created a program to drive public engagement with the Institute’s work. Tools like an interactive quiz, video, and magazine made their research accessible to all, demonstrating real-world implications and provoking curiosity.
Achieving accessibility, not simplicity
Initially, many researchers at the Institute worried that the process of making academic work accessible would diminish its value and credibility; they feared that the goal was simplification, a “dumbing-down” of complex ideas. But through careful use of visuals and analogies, researchers’ content came to life in ways that invited investigation into the details. With the right approach, philosophical research became engaging, accessible, and nuanced at the same time.
Our team of designers and communicators distilled current research at the Institute into a magazine, “Engaging Science,” which explores complex philosophical questions in a distinctly non-academic format. Filled with thought experiments, provocations, and insight into the Institute’s research, the magazine illustrates the exciting interplay between philosophy and the latest questions in physics, medicine, biology, and the environment.
Using interactive storytelling
As one demonstration of their real-world impact, Rotman researchers wanted to communicate the complexities of ethics standards for Cluster Randomized Trials (CRT). One solution was an interactive quiz that used narrative to anchor the question in the real world. The quiz tells the story of a CRT on infection prevention in hospitals. Users review the narrative, and then play a brief game that explores the ethical issues at play. Through storytelling and interactivity, complex content became immersive.
Complex ideas are made engaging, accessible, and nuanced at the same time.