Science Communication: A Practical Guide

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Science Communication: A Practical Guide
Fall Semester, 2011

Introduction and Overview
• Personal introductions • Course aims • Course requirements • Introduction to science communication • Talking about science
– What makes for good science talk? – Guidelines for first oral presentation

Course Aims
To provide:
• an introduction to popular science communication • intellectual resources for constructive critical
analysis of popular science communication • opportunities for cultivating oral (public speaking)
and written communication skills, through classroom exercises and assignments • a range of resources and skills for effective communication of complex material; • opportunities to undertake a substantial practical project in science writing or science exhibiting

“Rivers of Ice”, MIT Museum, Opening April 2012
Photo courtesy of Kenneth Barrett on Flickr. CC-BY-NC.

Course Requirements
This is a CI-H course, which means:
• a big emphasis on cultivating communication skills • substantial opportunities for oral expression
– presentations – student-led discussions – class participation • a minimum of 20 pages of written work, including revision of assignments based on feedback • support of a Writing Advisor - each student to arrange a 1:1 meeting with Nora at least once during the course

Introduction to Science Communication
Who communicates science?

Who Communicates Science?

• Scientists • Science publishers • Science funders • Science fund raisers • Science policy-makers • Presidents • Politicians • Lobbyists • Entrepreneurs • Venture Capitalists • Investors • Advertisers • Etc, etc,

• Teachers • Consumers • Doctors • Patients • Medical insurers • Journalists • PR consultants • Broadcasters • Film makers • Playwrights • Museum curators • Bloggers • Etc, etc


Professional Science Communication
Why do scientists communicate with each other?

Why do scientists communicate with each other?
• Because science is social • Because scientists depend on each other for ideas
and information • Because the first requirement of a successful
scientist is that s/he succeeds in persuading other scientists that s/he is a successful knowledge producer • Because scientists are professional critics of their colleagues’ work • Because the peer reviewed research paper is the official record of scientific achievement

Popular Science Communication
Why do scientists engage in popularization?

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Science Communication: A Practical Guide