The boundaries between the performing arts – dramatic, musical, choreographic, or cinematic – are increasingly porous and mutually revealing. At the same time, the factors that lead to success in the performing arts are more and more applicable to what it takes to perform at a high level in fields as diverse as engineering and law. Looking beyond the performing arts, narrowly defined, to a broader conception of “the arts of performance,” not only makes sense intellectually, but creates opportunities for innovation and renewal.
Osburn is Associate Director of CONNECT at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a program that adapts theatrical training techniques to enhance the communication skills of students in the Albert J. Nerkin School of Engineering. A co-developer of the program, he oversees a workshop sequence that mirrors the structure of a performing arts conservatory, starting with a basic overview and advancing to sessions on vocal, physical and group expression, along with the organization and interpretation of content. He has built a facilitation team that draws on theater, dance, music, movement analysis, and corporate training.
Since 2015 he has been Coordinator of Professional Development Workshops and Seminars, of which CONNECT is a core component. He was integral to a redesign of the program that consolidated it as an academic experience and made new connections with the Center for Career Development, the Center for Writing, student clubs and organizations, and a variety of individual courses.
As Instructor in Drama and Dramatic Literature at New York University, he has taught Realism and Naturalism, Theory of Drama, Dramatic Figures and Archetypes, Introduction to Theater Studies, and Shakespeare on Film, about which he was interviewed on the podcast The State of Shakespeare: listen. He taught on Drama and the News at The New School’s Eugene Lang College. Previously, he was Visiting Assistant Professor of Drama at Vassar College, Preceptor in Expository Writing at New York University, and Assistant Director of the Center for Writing and Speaking and Team Teacher in the Program for Language Skills at the Cooper Union.
His classes promote dialogue, close reading, and creative interaction. Through panels, presentations, writing exercises, and breakout sessions, he grounds the course in its essentials while dramatizing a range of perspectives and interpretations.
Osburn’s scholarship on the role of theater and performance in law, journalism, communication, and engineering education has been published in Theatre Journal, American Journalism, International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, and, in co-authorship, The Journal of Business Strategy. He has been a book reviewer for Modern Drama (45:2, 46:1) and Theatre Journal (54.4, 56.1). His doctoral dissertation at NYU dealt with the news as a form of “continual drama.”
He has presented or co-presented at conferences and seminars of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, American Society for Engineering Education, Mid-America Theatre Conference, Southwest/Texas and American Popular Culture Association, Theatres of Science: Crossovers and Confluence, Forum on Assessment in Arts Education, American Communication Association, Center for Engineering Education and Practice, Gateway/SUCCEED Project, Product Development and Management Association, and others.
He was Co-Principal Investigator, in 1999, on a National Science Foundation grant in support of CONNECT, and key to fulfilling the three-year federal grant that established the program in 1997.