Academics

Science Communications Courses

Build your skills using written stories, videos, and art exhibits

Do you want your science to make an impact on the world? This new science communications course series is here to help.

Communicating the importance, excitement, and rigor of science to the general public is a critical skill that can help you shape public policy, create an informed voting population, and secure funding for more research.

In these three courses you will learn and practice evidence-based communications strategies through assignments and interactive skill-building sessions.

Learn how to write and publish a digital story, create and deliver a TED Talk-style video, and design and launch an exhibit in the Chicagoland area. All sharing science. All giving you both the theory and practice so that you have new skills and polished concrete materials to accelerate your science and career. You can take one course, multiple, or join us for all three! Either the written course or video course (but not both) can be applied towards a major in the biological sciences.

Gain skills in written and digital communication, focusing on translating primary scientific research to a general audience. Learn what makes an engaging written article and how to write for the public without sacrificing scientific accuracy. We will explore platforms such as newspapers, magazines, blogs and social media. You will complete two written pieces that communicate research findings and their significance to a general audience, and you will be paired with a faculty mentor for the project to ensure scientific accuracy in their subject area when apply the course’s communications tools.

Articles may be disseminated through the Illinois Science Council, Marine Biology Laboratory, the Institute for Translational Medicine, or the National Institutes of Health. Students will walk away with a polished, published work.

  • Instructor(s): A. Zissimopoulos, S. Serritella.
  • Terms Offered: Autumn (Link to Catalog)
  • Prerequisite(s): Three quarters of a Biological Sciences Fundamentals sequence. Third or fourth-year standing.
  • Note: This course does meet the requirements for the Biological Sciences Major. 
  • Equivalent Course: PHSC 28101 - This course does not satisfy the physical sciences general education requirement.

Gain skills in oral communication and apply these skills to produce a TED-talk style video communicating primary research in a scientific area of your choice. The goal is effective, engaging communication of science to a general audience without sacrificing scientific accuracy. You will write scripts and design visual and audio elements. The talks will be filmed and edited in collaboration with UChicago Creative, who will assist with visual aids and animation. You will leave the course with a professionally-produced video that you can use to advance their career and promote your topic. You will be paired with a faculty mentor for the project to ensure scientific accuracy in their subject area when apply the course’s communications tools.

  • Instructor(s): A. Zissimopoulos, S. Serritella.
  • Terms Offered: Winter (Link to catalog)
  • Prerequisite(s): Three quarters of a Biological Sciences Fundamentals sequence. Third or fourth-year standing.
  • Note: This course does meet the requirements for the Biological Sciences Major. 
  • Equivalent Course: PHSC 28102 - This course does not satisfy the physical sciences general education requirement.

Work as a class to create an interactive physical exhibit that communicates a scientific topic to the public. This student-created exhibit will be displayed either on campus or across the city of Chicago. You will learn from experts in data visualization, visual arts, and museum exhibits to demonstrate the variety of ways science can be communicated. You will also take field trips to local museums to observe the different ways in which research and science communication work together in these settings. The class will critically analyze exhibits, evaluate how exhibits and approaches across the city are similar and different, and reflect on the variety of approaches. An advisory board of researchers from local Chicagoland museums will inform and review the final exhibits.

  • Instructor(s): A. Zissimopoulos, S. Serritella.
  • Terms Offered: Spring (Link to catalog)
  • Prerequisite(s): Third or fourth-year standing.  
  • Note: This course does not meet the requirements for the Biological Sciences Major. 
  • Equivalent Course: PHSC 29103 - This course does not satisfy the physical sciences general education requirement.