“Narrative is everything” believes scientist turned filmmaker Dr. Randy Olson. But how do you create a narrative that’s successful? Over the past decade, Dr. Olson has developed the ABT (And, But, Therefore) Framework, a powerful communications tool that guides you to the narrative core of all types of communications—research projects, scientific papers, outreach, interpretation, videos, proposals, presentations, blogs, AND stories.

In this course, you will acquire the ability to analyze a big, complicated project or issue and distill it down into the narrative core that is both CONCISE (as short as possible) and COMPELLING (retaining enough information to have an impact.)

This is more than just a “course”—it is a participatory journey!

Each of the 10 virtual classes includes a discussion about aspects of the ABT narrative structure and/or a guest speaker sharing how they apply the ABT framework in a variety of real-world settings. Dr. Olson will also demonstrate the ABT tools and thought processes by working with students to develop their own narrative sentences.

In addition to the virtual presentations, all participants take part in at least three Working Circles.

Working Circles are small groups from different backgrounds who help each other critique and improve their ABT sentences. Each student must lead one circle, providing the sentence to be discussed. In the other two circles, they will help improve someone else’s sentence. Times are flexible to accommodate participants’ schedules. Details about signing up for Working Circles will be provided once students are accepted to the class.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to use the ABT Framework to analyze a project or issue and distill it down to a narrative core that is both concise and compelling.


Target Audience

Anyone and everyone who has a message to communicate—natural and cultural resource specialists, law enforcement, interpreters, planners, and public affairs specialists.

Course Format

Virtual presentations and group collaboration.

Completion Time

11 1/2 Hours
(Generally over a 5-week period)


The class is offered approximately once/quarter. If you would like to be notified next time the class is announced, email cathy_purchis@nps.gov


Olson, Randy. 2020. The Narrative Gym: Introducing the ABT Framework for Messaging and Communication. Middletown, DE: Prairie Starfish Press.

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