Public Science Courses, Spring 2019


COM 598 Principles of Public Science

Fridays, 1:30-4:15*
Jean Goodwin (

Public science is a vague-ish but exciting term that encompasses all the ways that science could become better by integrating itself more closely with the rest of the world: science communication, citizen science, open science, informal science learning, community engaged research (to name only the ones prominent here at NC State).

This course will help you decide what public science means for you, and how you are going to pursue it. It is the required foundations course for the emerging graduate Minor in Public Science.

Our primary activity as a class will be accomplishing a project that will both advance each individual’s public science competencies and our collective understanding of how to improve the state of public science at NC State and beyond. This year our project is likely to be an internal report for NCSU leadership, and possibly for publication, on the contours of a good graduate education in public science. This will require us to interview public scientists (scientists pursuing careers related to policy, communication, citizen science, advocacy, even professors), interview members of the “publics” these scientists serve, consider some literature on public science and on personal growth, and synthesize our results into a compelling report.

In addition, each student will end the semester with:

  • a personal professional development plan laying out the public science competencies and knowledges you want to have when you graduate, and what you will do to achieve them
  • a statement of personal values, explaining why it is important for you to pursue public science
  • the beginnings of a network of people and resources that will support your continued development
  • an increased ability to recognize and manage some of the ethical tensions inherent in public science

*Note: Many of our classes will be field trips, and depending on the wishes of the group, may reschedule other classes to mutually convenient times.

COM 598:003/COM 798:009 Science Communication

Tues 1:30 – 4:15 PM
Nicole Lee ( and Matt Shipman (

This special topics course focuses on the strategic communication of science with lay audiences. The course will combine theory and practice so students will learn not only how to communicate effectively but also why certain strategies and tactics are appropriate for different situations. Particular attention will be devoted to identifying and understanding audiences, choosing communication channels and outlets, crafting media and messages, and evaluating effectiveness.

BIO 592-072 Creative Media Production for Scientists

M 4-4:50; W 3-4:50
Adrian Smith (
This course is a practical introduction to science communication through online digital media, with a heavy focus on video.Students will spend the semester working towards producing their own media pieces. We will also survey and discuss current online science communication media practices. Graduate students from all scientific disciplines as well as research-active upper-level undergraduates are welcome to register. No previous video production experience is necessary.


COM 289 Science Communication & Public Engagement

T/Th 10:15-11:30
Jean Goodwin (
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. Note: this course is the required entry course for the new undergraduate minor in Science Communication.

COM 436: Environmental Communication

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:15-11:30
William Kinsella
Environmental communication is an area of growing interest within the communication discipline, with both practical and theoretical importance. This course provides an overview of the field’s theoretical approaches, research areas, and practical applications. Topics include:

  • The social construction of nature, and human relationships with nature, through discourse, rhetoric, and communication practices
  • Critical and cultural approaches to environmental discourse
  • Communication about environmental issues in organizational, institutional, mass media, political, and cultural contexts, nationally and globally
  • Communication and environmental controversies, stakeholder dialog, and environmental conflict
  • Public understandings of environmental issues; public participation in environmental decision-making; expert-public-government dialog
  • Environmental risk analysis, science communication, risk communication, and risk regulation
  • Communication and environmental advocacy, activism, deliberation, and public relations

Note: this course meets the capstone requirement for the new undergraduate minor in Science Communication.

COM 498 Disaster Communication

M/W 3:00 – 4:15
David Berube (

This course deals with the challenges confronting communicators during disastrous natural events including: hurricanes and typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, forest fires, mudslides, avalanches and more. The messaging includes efforts toward reducing fatalities, prevention, protection, and recovery efforts and focuses primarily on the new roles played by digital media. We use extensive video adjuncts, read professional articles in the field, and develop protocols for a communication based response.

AEC 495:008 Practical Tools to Communicate Science

T 1:55-2:45pm | 283 David Clark Labs
Catherine LePrevost ( and Michelle Jewell (
A critical human dimension to all sciences is effective communication.  In this hands-on course, students will learn practical science communication tools and apply them to a variety of media. They will also create pieces for real-world communication challenges within the Department of Applied Ecology.