Where Art Meets Science

Xunesis, an interdisciplinary company of scientists, media, and performing artists, will premier the short film on human memory, “Retrieval,” along with a companion learning module, at the National Institute for the Teaching of Psychology conference in January.

The project was developed by Xunesis co-founders Robert Morrison, a cognitive psychologist, and Chad Eric Bergman, a theater professor.

“Xunesis is dedicated to finding ways to use creative and media arts for science education,” Morrison said.

In the film’s early stages, Morrison and Bergman worked with former APS President and memory researcher Robert A. Bjork, University of California, Los Angeles. Prominent memory experts, including APS Past President Elizabeth Loftus, University of California, Irvine; APS Fellow and Charter Member Daniel Schacter, Harvard University; and APS Fellow Martin Conway, University of Durham, were consulted for the learning module, which expands on topics explored in the film, as well as other trends and experiments in the field. Morrison believes “Retrieval” can impact many levels of psychology education.

“We showed the film to academics on the West Coast, and their reaction surprised me,” he said. “I see the science in this film as basic, but the graduate students embraced it at a whole different level, which makes me think there may be applications across a broad range of learners.”

The film was cut in both five and 15 minute versions to offer teachers flexibility. Morrison cited the growing number of high school psychology students as another possible audience, and he also thinks Xunesis can make an impact in science museums.

“Psychology is underrepresented in science museums, and we would like to see that change,” Morrison said. He is currently consulting with APS Fellow and Charter Member David Myers, Hope College, a leading textbook author and psychology advocate, to select key topics and attract grant possibilities.

Morrison even envisions Xunesis shows on Broadway, where Proof and Copenhagen, both about scientists, have received acclaim. “The ability to use narrative, dramatic story is a natural fit for teaching psychology,” he said.

For more information, visit www.xunesis.org.

Observer Vol.18, No.1 January, 2005

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