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David Orzechowicz selected for 2012-2013 Professors for the Future program

Professors for the Future is a year-long competitive fellowship program designed to recognize and develop the leadership skills of outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who have demonstrated their commitment to professionalism, integrity, and academic service. This unique program sponsored by the Office of Graduate Studies focuses on the future challenges of graduate education, postdoctoral training, and the academy. Professors for the Future (PFTF) is designed to prepare UC Davis doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars for an increasingly competitive marketplace and a rapidly changing university environment. PFTF Fellows receive a $3,000 stipend.

Academic careers demand scholars engage in various performances. In job talks, conference presentations, media interviews, and classroom lectures, graduate students and postdocs assert and manage a particular presentation of self, one that (we hope) reflects how we see ourselves as scholars. To become dynamic performers, we must be comfortable with our voice and body, manage stage fright, and recognize the effect personal habits and quirks have on the self we present to an audience. Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in every discipline know they are expected to give academic performances at different points in their career, and most have a sense of how to construct a script for that performance (the paper that provides the basis for the talk). Yet there is a lack of preparation and training at UC Davis on how to prepare oneself to deliver an active, dynamic performance.

To address this problem, David has proposed an Acting for Academics course. The global course goal will be increasing participants’ awareness of strengths, limitations, and habits in academic presentation of self through the use of acting games, exercises, and collaborative activities. The course will satisfy a more immediate, local goal: to develop, rehearse, and perform a brief academic talk, where participants can explore their performance potential in a safe, supportive environment.