Spring 2019 - SCI 301 D100

Science Communication: An Introduction (3)

Class Number: 2250

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 3 – Apr 8, 2019: Mon, 4:30–7:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Eileen van der Flier-Keller
    Office: TASC 1 Room 7213
  • Prerequisites:

    60 units towards a BSc degree or permission of instructor.



As the role of science in society grows, so too does the need for effective science communication. Students will explore why we communicate science, the importance of knowing your audience, and best practices for a range of science communication approaches from traditional media, face to face, to online.


Introduction: Why communicate science?
Communicating to scientists vs non-experts
Who is the audience? What’s your message: Issue? Problem? So what? Solutions?  Benefits?
Refining the messages for different audiences
Communication formats
Traditional media: Print newspapers, magazines, radio, TV
Face to Face: Elevator pitch, presentations, TED talks, teaching, museums, live performances, informal learning environments, classrooms, debates, science festivals, café scientifique
Online: Blogs, websites, social media, podcasts, videos, twitter, infographics
Communicating Science Best Practises
Speaking Science
Writing Science
Doing Science
Importance of Visuals
Evaluating Effectiveness of Science Communication


By the end of this course students will;
1. Appreciate that communication with many different audiences is an important part of the science venture, and that scientists communicate with the public in a variety of ways BY writing journal responses to guest lecturers and responding to reflection questions e.g. science communication opportunities

2. Demonstrate an understanding of audience BY tailoring a message to a variety of different audiences and choosing an appropriate communication approach for each. Justify your choices.

3. Develop a message to communicate to an audience BY using a message box.

4. Demonstrate knowledge of the traditional and online communication approaches and best practices BY critiquing a science communication (blog, video, lecture), demonstrating understanding of use of jargon, visuals, message inverted pyramid etc.

5. Work individually and in teams to design, develop and present science communications (activity, visual, dramatic, written) BY a) presenting a 1 minute science elevator pitch, b) writing a science blog post, and c) designing, developing and presenting a final group project.


  • Journal responses and reflections 25%
  • Assignments - Message Box/Audiences 5%
  • Assignments - Science Communication Critiques 15%
  • Assignments - Science Writing/Blob Post 15%
  • Presentation - 1 Minute Science 10%
  • Final Project: Science Communication Activity (Team Work) 30%



Escape from the Ivory Tower by Nancy Baron Island Press 2010
ISBN: 9781597266642

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html