Today it is clear that effective communication is lacking between those who do science and those who could use it to improve their quality of life or to better understand the world around them.
This course focuses on frequent questions from researchers in the natural and social sciences, including, “How can I make my research project as visible as possible?” And, “How do I successfully communicate my project to a diverse audience?”
Often the information that is produced in the scientific and academic world circulates in a very restricted environment, thereby missing countless opportunities to reach a broader audience. This contact with a larger audience is precisely where new job opportunities and community engagement with new research may arise. To take advantage of these opportunities, in this course we will learn and practice strategies to communicate complex concepts in different contexts and for different types of audiences.
This 6-week course (3 hours/week) is designed so that the participants learn and apply communication strategies and thus have a greater impact both within and outside of academia. Strategies such as persuasion techniques, professional storytelling and networking in conferences, communication through videos and podcasts, and written communication using social networks and blogs will be learned. At the end of the course, the student will have a digital portfolio with their own samples showing different multimedia communication strategies.
What is my role in the class?
This is a workshop-style class where you will participate in exercises in class, comment on your classmates’ work and create a portfolio of your own communication about topics you are interested in. We will imagine different publics to tailor our communication to.
Every week the asynchronous class should be done between Wednesday and Sunday evenings. Work will usually either be due on Sunday night so there is time for feedback, or presented directly in class on Tuesdays.
What is a digital portfolio and how will we use it?
Starting in week 3, we are going to use a google site to collect our various products. It’s a great opportunity to work on making a simple website and customizing it, especially if you are considering making a site for a communication project.
Your final portfolio will contain edited final versions of your work that take into consideration the formative feedback you received throughout the course. During this course you will produce a video story about a scientific topic, podcast, press release, elevator pitch and some social media posts. Final evaluations will include a rubric and individual discussions with course teachers.
Communicating complex topics in engaging ways
Audience awareness: Cognitive biases and deficit theory
The power of analogies and stories communicating science
Segmentation of the public
Theory for the cocktail party: effective ways to network and connect with others
Elevator pitch: your presentation about a project
The importance of gaining trust. Is it possible to change behaviors?
Science and media: Why doesn’t anybody interview me?
The perils of communicating with journalists: watch out for click baits and overstated results
Press release: write your own press release and practice presenting ideas to a journalist
Discuss strategies to contact journalists: Direct communication (emails) vs. tags in social media
Digital Tools & Social media strategies
Design is your friend! Starting your portfolio website & using organization and design to communicate
Tools for communicating science using video and audio: podcasts and videos
Reflection on the process for developing your portfolio
English level B2 (high-intermediate) or above. An interest in the natural sciences and science communication.
This course will meet once a week for a synchronous class, on Tuesdays, starting on November 3 and ending in December 8, 2020, from 10-11:30 am (CST). There will also be an asynchronous class of 90 min per week.
Additional scholarships may be available for students with demonstrated financial need. If you are interested in being considered for a partial scholarship, please make sure to include a request for a partial scholarship in your application. Successful applicants will be individually assessed to determine scholarship eligibility.
Please note seats are limited.
Carlos Guarnizo, PhD., Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
Carlos is a biologist from the Universidad de los Andes (Colombia) with a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in biogeography of Neotropical amphibians, and is a researcher and lecturer at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. Carlos created the successful SciComm initiative Ciencia Café pa’ Sumercé, which consists of monthly in-person events and a robust social media presence with over 25,000 followers from around the world! Carlos also co-created and presented EMBUSTERS, a SciComm TV series produced with the Colombian Ministry of Science, and broadcast nationally on Señal Colombia.
Caitlin May, M.Ed.
Caitlin is a Languages and Culture instructor at Universidad de los Andes. She specializes in working with master’s, doctoral, and postdoctoral students to strengthen their rhetorical and linguistic skills in order to publish articles in English. Caitlin has a BA in Political Science from Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts) and a M.Ed. in Education from Lesley University (Boston). She is a founding member of the science communication initiative Ciencia Café pa’ Sumercé. Caitlin is the co-creator and presenter of EMBUSTERS, an original SciComm TV series produced with the Colombian Ministry of Science. She loves the challenges of communicating complex ideas in engaging ways!