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Science Journalism | RIC 304

Instructor: Christina Angeli

Course Description

The goal of this course is to teach students how to produce newsworthy stories on scientific topics, the way to handle uncertainty and to expose them through field trips to the real world of scientists.  Moreover, it is designed to acquaint students with all aspects of science coverage including bioethics and to spur them to think critically about moral questions that arise in science challenging stories. At the same time, the course aims to introduce students the way through they can better appreciate the anthropocentric role of science journalism through the prism of a global narrative. For this reason attempts are made to compare and contrast science coverage in developed and developing countries and raises awareness about global problems that involve international collaboration.

 

Course Objectives

  • Expose students to the real world of science journalism and the techniques of science reporting
  • Understand how and why scientific writing is unique from other forms of writing
  • Provide interaction with scientists and professional science journalists
  • Understand of the ethical dimensions and human rights considerations of science that confront science journalists how to address controversial issues
  • Provide a multidisciplinary toolkit for thinking about complex interaction between science, politics and society

 

Learning Outcomes

  1. Develop writing skills in communicating science related issues and its implications to a non-expert audience
  2. Learn how to find and use resources for preparing science articles
  3. Identify how to negotiate with the scientists and how to deal with scientific information
  4. Understand the approaches and techniques needed to monitor and evaluate science related topics in national and global contexts
  5. Recognize ethical issues and think critically about how science and technology shape societies

 

Class/Learning activities

Lectures, group work, workshops, literature study, field trips, personal science blogs, science seminar critique and written assignments.

 

Workload

Type of work Description Hours
Lectures Thirteen 3-hours lectures 39
Group work Organization and coordination of group work 20-25
Independent study Study of compulsory and optional literature 40-45
Personal science blog Create a blog on any topic of interest in the general field of science 35-40
Written assignments-Presentations Written assignmentsTo be arranged after discussion with the instructor 120-140
Field Trip One field trip will be held during the semester
Total workload 254-289

 

Assessment

Type of assessment Learning outcome Impact on final grade Date of assessment
Participation in group work and discussion 1-5 20% Regularly
Presentation of written assignment 1-5 20% 8th-12th week
Written assignments (short) 1-5 30% 5th-8th week
Written assignment (Science seminar critique) 1-5 30% 12th week

 

Bibliography – Required Reading

Books

  • Bauer, M.W. & Bucchi, M. (2010). Journalism, Science and Society: Science Communication between News and Public Relations. New York: Routledge.
  • Blum, D., Knudson, M., & Marantz Henig, R.M, (eds). (2006). A Field Guide for Science Writers (2nd ed). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kennedy, D., Overholser, G., (eds). (2010).  Science and the Media. Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Articles

  • Allan, S. (2011). Introduction: Science Journalism in a digital age. Journalism, 12 (7), pp. 771-777.
  • Burns, T.W., O΄Connor, D.J., & Stocklmayer, S.M. (2003). Science communication: a contemporary definition. Public Understanding of Science, 12 (2), pp.183-202.
  • Gross, A. G. (1994). The roles of rhetoric in the public understanding of science. Public Understanding of Science, 3(1), pp. 3-23.
  • Liang, X., Su, L.Y., Yeo, S. K., Scheufele, D.A., Brossard, D., Xenos, M., Corley, E. A. (2014). Building buzz: (Scientists) communicating science in new media environments. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 91(4), pp. 772-791.
  • Nisbet, M.C., & Scheufele, D. A. (2009). What’s next for science communication? Promising directions and lingering distractions. American Journal of Botany, 96 (10), pp. 1767-1778.
  • Peters, H. (1995). The interaction of journalists and scientific experts: Co-operation and conflict between two professional cultures. Media, Culture & Society, 17 (1), pp. 31-48.
  • Reed, R. (2001). (Un-) Professional Discourse? : Journalists’ and Scientists’ Stories about Science in the Media. Journalism, 2(3), pp. 279-98.
  • Secko, D., Amend, E., Friday, T. (2013). Four models of science journalism. Journalism Practice, 7 (1), pp. 62-80.
  • Suldovsky, B. (2016). In science communication, why does the idea of the public deficit always return? Exploring key influences. Public Understanding of Science, 25 (4), pp. 415 – 426.