Dance Your Thesis

If you think that writing a term paper is hard, try dancing it!

Traditionally, a doctoral thesis is a years-long academic paper that thoroughly explains the ins-and-outs of a Ph.D. student's research and findings after investigating an original question within their discipline. Theses or dissertations can be a lengthy piece of written work. Depending on the area of study, it can range 300 pages or more. These book-length papers may contain charts, graphs and images and, of course, plenty of words. Integrating visuals with the words can further clarify often-difficult subjects, and may help students who learn visually. But, for those who learn best through movement, kinesthetic learners—those who learn best through movement—are left out.

Enter the 8th annual "Dance Your Ph.D." thesis competition, where 31 graduate students submitted theses-in-motion to show what their research revealed through dance. Their entries, from a variety of science disciplines, transformed complex research findings into contemporary dance. Chemistry, physics, biology, and even social sciences are transformed into a beautiful consolidation of science and moving art. The creativity required to assimilate comprehensive concepts into intricate steps and movements that tell a story is an impressive feat without a doubt.

Science Magazine sponsors the unusual competition that challenges students to forget the often-overcomplicated jargon used in their fields and present their research in a way that’s entertaining and understandable for everyone.

The result is a new and original way to explain the culmination of one's years of research and study, a different way to learn, and inform at the same time.

The winner of 2015 was Florence Netz, from University of Bern in Switzerland. Dr. Netz's thesis was centered on a water protection policy; it depicted how all parts of contemporary society plays a role in the process of policymaking.

Leonardo da Vinci, both a scientist and an artist exemplified the idea that no matter how different two areas are—as different as public policy and dance, in this case—they spring from a common root; given enough creative thought and exploration, these can come together to form original new ways to apply to problems.

The Edge of Yesterday encourages kids to be curious and not to limit themselves to one discipline of schooling and instead explore and expand their horizons. As a great man once wrote, "The knowledge of all things is possible." – Leonardo da Vinci

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