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Course Descriptions

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SCOM 5016 Audiences and Issues

Students are introduced to considering the values, beliefs, knowledge, experience, attitudes, perceptions, misperceptions and myths people bring to discussion and decisions about issues and situations in which science is an important component. Students engage in framing science as evidence in ways that enable stakeholders, decision makers,  policy developers, and publics with diverse interests, to integrate science into their understanding of issues. Students are trained in engaging visitors on the floors of Science North and encouraged to build and apply their experience in the science centre. (exp 1, lec/sem 2) cr 3

SCOM 5026-EL Learning Theories and Practices in Science Communication 

This course introduces students to current theories of learning relevant to communicating science to non-specialist audiences in informal learning environments. This includes topics such as constructivism, socio-cultural approaches to learning, lifelong learning, discovery learning, experiential learning, theories of multiple intelligences and the Contextual Model of Learning. Students recognize and apply learning theories to critically analyze, evaluate, and develop various forms of science communication. (lec 2, sem 1) cr 3

SCOM 5036 Theories and Principles of Science Communication

This course draws on relevant communication theories and science communication research to develop a conceptual-analytical framework for understanding the forms and functions of contemporary science communication in diverse contexts, for diverse audiences, and using diverse media. Students ground their understanding of the theories and principles of science communication by engaging in critical analysis of current science and society issues and communication practices. (lec 2, sem 1) cr 3

SCOM 5056 Design Theory in Science Communication

Students will study the theory of design and its application to science communication. Main topics include: Content design - conceptual organization of scientific knowledge for learnability; Format design - selection of modes and protocols of presentation for effective 'free choice' learning; Production design - development of communication artifacts within project standards and constraints. The theoretical and critical knowledge gained through this course prepares students for more practice-based components of the SCOM program. (lec/lab 3) cr 3

SCOM 5066 Science Communication Practice I: Orientation 

Students design, create, and deliver professional quality, in-person presentations, based on the foundations of effective science communication, using techniques supported by research and aimed at engaging a variety of audiences in different settings. Webinar and videoconference presentations are also considered. Students also learn to use communication tools such as briefing notes, communication plans, communication maps, and media releases. Guest presenters, field trips and meetings with science communication professionals complement class activities.  (exp 1, lec/sem 2) cr 3 

PREREQ: SCOM 5016, 5026, 5036, 5056

SCOM 5116 Research Methods in Science Communication 

This course familiarizes students with empirical research methods that science communication scholars and professionals use in understanding and assessing the effectiveness of all forms of science communication. In the context of science communication, lectures and seminars cover topics such as: qualitative and quantitative research designs; the value of mixed methods; focus groups; interview methods; questionnaire design; grounded theory research; text-based research; ethics of research with human subjects. Students employ these methods during their Major Research Paper (SCOM 5125). (lec/sem 3) cr 3

PREREQ: SCOM 5016, 5026, 5036, 5056

SCOM 5136 Communicating Science Through New Media 

This course is focused on creative, effective, contemporary approaches to engaging on-line and new media audiences with science-related topics, using digital means. Students are expected to use their knowledge of engaging audiences, learning theory, design and framing to critique contemporary examples of projects that utilize digital environments, as well as develop their own ideas. Creating and implementing a digital communication plan is a final component of the course (let 1, exp/lab 2) cr 3

PREREQ: SCOM 5016, 5026, 5036, 5056

SCOM 5076 Communicating Science Through Exhibits 

In this course students communicate science issues and phenomena through exhibits by applying their knowledge of effective communication methods that best promote learning and understanding. Topics include exhibit design and signage writing; analyzing museum and science centre exhibit research; establishing scientifically credible and balanced content; anthropometric issues. Led by Science North professionals, the course provides students with access to the tools and lab space to build a functioning prototype exhibit in a science centre setting. (exp, lec/lab 3) cr 3 

PREREQ: SCOM 5016, 5026, 5036, 5056

SCOM 5106 Communicating Science Through Traditional Media 

Students write science-based stories suitable for newspapers and work in productions teams to produce short video and/or radio stories about graduate student science research projects. Production involves interviewing and developing a storyline with the researcher, shooting/recording and editing. Students learn interviewing, on-camera, production and editing skills. (exp 2, tut/lec/sem 1) cr 3

PREREQ: SCOM 5016, 5026, 5036, 5056

SCOM 5146 Science Communication Practice II: Professional Placement

This course develops students' professional skills as science communicators and as reflective practitioners through seminars and workplace experience of 8 weeks minimum in an organization involved in the communication of science with non-specialist audiences. This includes organizations such as NGOs, governments agencies, science film industry, traditional and new media outlets, science centres, aquaria, zoos, and research institutions. Students establish their placements in consultation with the SCOM Program Director. (lec 1, exp 2) cr 3 


SCOM 5125 Major Research Paper in Science Communication 

Students select a topic of science communication research for their Major Research Paper in consultation with the Program Director and their Supervisor. Students investigate a current and relevant topic in science communication, in pursuit of knowledge and understanding of factors that influence the production, reception and evaluation of effective communication with non-specialist audiences in various contexts. (exp 1, sem 2) cr 6


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