Science Communication: A Practical Guide

Fall 2012

Mondays and Wednesdays, 11 am - 12:30 pm in 12-142
FIRST MEETING DATE: Monday, September 10 (no class on September 5)

HASS-H, CI-H (enrollment limited)
3-0-9 units

Scientists and engineers need to be able to communicate about their work – to funders, to policy-makers, to journalists, to relatives and friends, and, of course, to each other. Today, more than ever, people with scientific expertise who can convey complicated ideas to a wide variety of audiences are in high demand! Indeed, the ability to communicate clearly and engagingly with the public has been critical to the success of many of the world’s most respected scientists and engineers.

This course develops students' abilities to communicate science effectively in the real world. Starting with the key elements of clear and persuasive speaking, writing and exhibiting, the course considers a range of issues including communicating complex material, visualization, and dealing with controversial issues; and it covers specialist topics like giving live interviews for broadcast, being an expert witness, and preparing briefings for policy-makers.

Each week, the course will move between academic seminars designed to introduce key principles and practical workshops aimed at cultivating communication skills. Students will undertake a major project in science writing in which they may elect to develop a news analysis, podcast or Op-Ed for possible publication.

STS.034 will be team taught by Adjunct Professor and MIT Museum Director John Durant and Broad Institute Senior Science Policy Adviser Bina Venkataraman, who directs strategy, research and writing projects for Professor Eric Lander in his capacity as Co-Chair of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.


Register for
STS.034 Science Communication: A Practical Guide.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Building E51-163