Thursday, February 18, 2010
Science communication in a nutshell
Science communication can sometimes be a hard field to define, simply because it is a combination of many other disciplines. You need to know the science to communicate it, the context of the science and issues, how to communicate it to a variety of audiences through various media and the ability to evaluate whether it was effective. I found a diagram in Mulder et al. 2008 which I've adapted for this post. It is a great representation of what science communication is all about.
In the SciComm program, you come with a good background in science (top left circle of the diagram). You understand it and how it works and have an appreciation for it. In the program, they teach you how to do the rest.
All of our courses fit snuggly into the diagram. With Educational Studies (top right circle) we have the courses: Learning - Theories and Practice, and Research Methods in Science Communication.
In Social Studies of Science (bottom left circle), we have the course: Audiences and Issues, and a plethora of guest lectures from people in the field.
Communication Studies (bottom right circle) is covered by the courses: Theories and Principles of Science Communication, Design Theory in Science Communication, Science Communication Practice, Communicating through Exhibits, Live Programing, Mass Media and Information Technology.
Finally, our Research Project in Science Communication and our internship uses combination of everything in the diagram.
Science communication is a diverse field, but it is that breadth that allows you to work almost anywhere.
Mulder, H.A.J., Longnecker, N., and Davis, L.S. 2008. The state of science communication programs at universities around the world. Science Communication. 30:277-287.