While still considered authoritative domains, science and technology have also become contested areas. Online communities argue against vaccination campaigns, science blogs fight over data that claim to show climate change, and cases of scientific fraud dominate the news. Experts are open to challenge just for being experts. How come, and what does this development mean for the ways in which science and technology are communicated in society? How are scientific experts, communication professionals and organizations involved supposed to deal with this situation? What role is there for publics and other stakeholders?
The course is exclusively focused on students from the MSc Research Honours and PhDs from Twente Graduate School who are interested in the public communication on science and technology. More and more, scientific experts are required to pay attention to the ways in which their research is communicated to and with the ‘outside world’. However, scientific experts and consumer-citizens often have different appreciations of science and technology, and this affects their interactions. What is the nature of these differences and what are the implications for the communication between experts and consumer-citizens? How do people deal with complex information regarding technological risks? What is the role of emotions? How should experts and expert organizations establish or maintain trustworthiness? Throughout the course, we translate the provided insights to the domain of science and technology, such as nanotechnology and biomedical science.
Intended learning outcomes
Having followed this course, students are able to:
- identify and explain the core theoretical concepts in the field of science and technology communication, with a special focus on the science-society relationship;
- analyze the basic processes that explain how different publics deal with technological and scientific information;
- analyze how experts and expert organizations interact with different publics and communities;
- apply these insights so as to help improve communication practices in the field of science and technology communication, including those related to the student’s own research area.
Part of the course is devoted to class teaching, during which there will be ample opportunity for interaction and discussion. The course is structured around four themes (see below). Each theme is introduced with a lecture, after which the theoretical insights are applied and discussed in a follow-up meeting. Related to the four themes, individual home assignments will be made.
During the course, students are expected to discuss and present their assignments. For optimal learning, students are strongly advised to attend each of the eight course meetings.
The literature will be available from Blackboard one week before the first meeting.
The course result will be based on four individual assignments. The first three smaller assignments are to be handed in on the Tuesdays before the follow-up meetings (see below). The final assignment has to be handed in two weeks after the last meeting (April 15th 2016). All components require a 5.0 at least to pass; a total average of 5.5 or more means that the student has passed the course. End marks will be given in terms of pass or fail (completed/not completed).
Prof.dr. Hedwig te Molder
Prof.dr. Hedwig te Molder
Office hours: Wednesday and Thursday in Cubicus C329
February 6 – March 30 2017
Time: Thursday 18:00 – 19:45 (only the first course lecture is on Monday!!)
Location: To be announced
Science Communication in a complex society
Meetings 1 & 2
Monday February 6 & Thursday February 16
Risky issues: the role of knowledge and emotion
Meetings 3 & 4
Thursday February 23 & March 2
Trust and trustworthiness
Meetings 5 & 6
Thursday March 9 & March 16
Contested experts and expertise
Meetings 7 & 8
Thursday March 23 & March 30