On completing the course, students will
- Have an understanding of how science and health are covered by the popular media
- Acquire the basic skills and insights needed to write about science and health for the popular media
- Have an understanding of the structure, politics, culture and economics of the science and health establishment
- Be able to plan and execute simple science literacy/health communication campaigns
Media and communication professionals have for long played a key role in building the public understanding of science. From columns in the daily newspaper to specialized magazines dealing with personal health and popular science to regular television and radio programmes on health, to public information dissemination by the science and health establishment, there are several contexts where communicators play a crucial role. Science is an important social activity, as is the design and delivery of health, and it is important that young journalists and communicators have the intellectual and practical tools to be able to question, appreciate and translate these for public consumption and use.
This course will also provide a brief introduction to the theory and practice of science and health communication, from critique of media coverage of science, technology and health, to the strategic ways in which communication may be used to further social objectives involving aspects of health and science. In doing so, the course covers the closely related practices of science and health journalism, public communication of science, health literacy and education, and health campaigns. Participants will critically examine a wide range of media coverage, while also learning from science and health campaigns run by social and private organizations in the country. The course will also explore the role of communication against the global dynamics of big science, the health industry, the politics of health, and people’s science movements.
|Task||Description||Percentage of marks|
|Presentation||In teams of two, students will explore the media coverage of a scientific controversy and make a comprehensive presentation to be shared with all course participants||20%
|Book review||A critical review of a popular science book selected from this list or an additional list that will be provided http://niemanreports.org/articles/books-every-science-writer-should-read/
You may also select a book on your own.
|Podcast||You will make a short (5-7 minute) explainer podcast aimed at a popular audience; this can take any form–conversation, monologue, interview, etc. We’ll create a class podcast on Anchor and these will be uploaded on the platform.||20%
|Health campaign||Working in groups of four, students will design a campaign and develop the appropriate messaging for various collateral, with an explanation of the purpose and the logic. The topic for the campaign must be discussed in advance with the instructor.||20%
|Response papers (4)||During the course of the semester, you will be asked to write four short response papers on themes that we have discussed. These will be due at different points during the semester.||20% (5% each)|