Engaging Science: Communication and Public Understanding of Scientific Research

HPSC-X240 — Spring 2022

Jutta Schickore
Sycamore Hall 103
Days and Times
Monday/Wednesday 3:00P-4:15P
Course Description

Modern scientists are highly trained experts working at specialized research institutes or universities. But science is not confined to the laboratory. Scientific culture and knowledge are incorporated in the common culture in many ways. Scientific knowledge allows us to solve practical problems and helps us to make informed decisions. Scientists communicate the results of their work to public audiences, the media report on science and scientists, and sometimes scientific ideas spur controversy. Politicians, lawyers, and other professionals draw on, and sometimes seek to restrict scientific activity. Citizen scientists without a formal science background give time, effort, and resources to collaborative scientific inquiry. This course explores how scientists interact with public audiences, how the public engages with scientists and consumes scientific information, and how the relation between science and the public has changed over time. The course is not discipline-specific, but intended for any student in the sciences and in the humanities. A science background is not required.

Students will research, write, and orally present a 5000-word paper on a topic related to the course theme. They will learn the relevant research and writing techniques and will participate in peer review.