The story of our science communication curricula – To be continued

The story of our science communication curricula – To be continued

Author: Caroline Wehrmann – Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

Liesbeth de Bakker – Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Henk Mulder – University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Todd Newman – Stony Brook University, New York
Miriam Sullivan – University of West Australia, Australia

In this session we will share stories about our efforts and challenges to (re)design our science communication master programs and invite your feedback. As we are from different institutes, on several parts-of-the-world, from universities of technology and ‘classical’ universities, just starting or with 15+ years of experience, we will reflect and share potential solutions from different perspectives; based on student, alumni and staff evaluations.

One main problem concerns the tension between what ‘the university wants’ (strong theoretical grounding, students going on to PhD-research) and what most students want (practical job experience and skills). How can we balance practical and theoretical components in our curricula? Do we focus on training students for non-research jobs in science communication requiring academic levels, or do we find ways to prepare students for both academic and professional careers?

Secondly, in response to an increasing demand for science communicators among key stakeholders, we would like to guide our students through different career paths and help them discover new job opportunities. How to build a coherent curriculum that offers a sound basis for that? Should we provide students with a wide range of skills and a broad multidisciplinary knowledge? Do we have to guide them in their personal professional development? Or do we focus on teaching students how to innovate and find approaches to new problems?

We could specialize, and collaborate with other SC programs to offer students a wide range of opportunities. But what to expect from exchange programs? What are benefits and pitfalls for students and staff? How to make our programs accessible to the growing number of international students with various backgrounds and interests? And can we still cater to domestic labour markets if we teach in English?

We appreciate your help in writing the next chapter in the story of our curricula!

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Teaching science communication