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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 of controversial topics and to expose participants through interactive activities to the real world of science journalism. 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. Finally, during the lectures students will have the opportunity to communicate with renowned speakers from the field of science journalism and experience the insights and perspectives of an expert.

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, literature study, group work (science debates), exercises, presentations and written assignments.

Workload

Type of work Description Hours
Lectures Thirteen 3-hours lectures 39
Group work Science debates 20
Independent study Study of compulsory and optional literature 50
In-class presentation of study material Presentations of weekly readings 30
Systematic review of science media landscape Weekly discussions of science news articles published in different media 15
Exercises Exercises based on the course material 25
Written assignments-Presentations Written assignments & projects presentations 120
Total workload 299

 Assessment

Type of assessment Learning outcome Impact on final grade Date of assessment
Participation in group work, exercises and discussion 1-5 15% Regularly
Presentations of weekly readings 1-5 15% Regularly
Written assignments (News story, Interview) 1-5 20% 5th-7th week
Written assignments (Feature articles) -Presentations  of “Science & Society Project- Science stories from the home countries” 1-5 20% 8th-9th week
Written assignments (Research article)- Presentations of Research project 1-5 30% 12th-13th 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.
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