Public Science-related Undergraduate Courses for Spring ’19

Science Communication & Public Engagement

COM 289; Jean Goodwin (; MW 3-4:15

Communicating complex science is hard enough. It gets even harder when you throw in controversial issues, distrustful audiences, and new media. In this course you’ll learn how to understand and adapt to audiences effectively, how to take appropriate roles in public debates, how to make good use of different media, and how to involve the public in scientific research. Whether you’re a future scientist, engineer, natural resource manager, communication professional or just ordinary citizen, you’ll take away a better understanding of how everyone can work together to make good decisions informed by sound science.

Popularizing Science in Digital Media

ENG 395-001; Laura Roberts (; TTh 3-4:15.

When we think of scientific popularizations, we often think of newspaper columns, long-form essays, or articles in magazines such as Science or American Scientist. For many years, these traditional genres of the printing press influenced how the public garnered information about scientific discoveries and inventions, from Robert Boyles’ experiments with the air pump to the structure of DNA. More recently, popularizations of science have boomed through social media and the internet. This media reaches us in our everyday lives, from science podcasts that we may download and listen to on the go, or even the subversive ways that science is weaved into games and cinema. In this class, we will analyze how digital media has changed the ability to popularize information, while also affecting the means in which that interaction takes place. We’ll look at a variety of digital genres and platforms, such as games, movies, and social media to critically analyze how science is diffused to the populace. Ultimately, we’ll evaluate the rhetorical nature of these tools for dissemination and information in order to better construct popularizations that reach and interact with various audiences.

Science & Celebrity in the 20th Century

STS 490; Elizabeth Jones; W 3:00-5:45 PM

This course investigates the interplay between science and celebrity throughout the twentieth century with attention to the role that press and public interest has played in the lives of various scientists and in the development of scientific ideas, events, and controversies during this time. It touches on topics in the physical sciences and life sciences from dinosaurs and de-extinction to nuclear physics, the space race, and climate change with the goal of understanding these topics within the context of the rise of the mass media, celebrity culture, and the Hollywood Blockbuster.

Indigenous People and the 21st Century Environment

CNR 295; Ryan Emanuel; TTh 10:15-11:30 AM

Indigenous peoples worldwide have deep cultural connections to specific places. Why are these connections important? What do they look like today? This 3-credit course examines the history, public policy, and environmental science behind present-day examples of Native American tribes and other indigenous peoples grappling with issues of sustainability, cultural preservation, and more. No prerequisites. Counts toward the Native American Studies Minor at NC State and may be used as an advised elective for other majors.​ See

Climate Change Communication

COM 479/579; David M. Berube (; MW 3:00 – 4:15.

An exploration of the communication successes and failures surrounding climate change and public opinion. Topics addressed include: agenda setting, media effects, framing, data visualizations, fear responses, naming, risk communication and theory, argumentation and refutation, and persuasion as well as issues and current events related to the challenges associated with communicating climate change to multiple stakeholders.

Biotechnology, Conservation, and Society

ES 495; Jack Wang & Adam Kokotovich; TTh 8:30-9:45

CRISPR and other advances in molecular biology are revolutionizing biotechnology and raising important questions: What new applications of biotechnology are possible? How can we pursue innovation responsibly? When and how should biotechnology be used in conservation and other realms? Co-taught by a molecular biologist and a social scientist, this course provides interdisciplinary perspectives to explore scientific and societal issues surrounding emerging biotechnologies. Mixing in-class discussions, real-world case studies, readings, and guest lectures, students will develop insights and skills needed to navigate these issues in their careers and lives.