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Science Communication Workshop

October 17, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

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COMM5660 Science Communication Workshop

This intensive weekend workshop introduces graduate students and post-docs in the sciences (including natural sciences, engineering, experimental social sciences, etc.) to communicating effectively – especially about controversial topics, such as climate change or evolution – with nonscientists such as policy makers, political stakeholders, the media, and the general public. Activities include role-playing, mini-lectures, hands-on practice writing blog posts and other outreach materials, real-time practice being interviewed for the media, and discussion with invited speakers.

The weekend workshop will be offered entirely online, through Cornell’s Canvas system and Zoom.

This course is supported by the Department of Communication and Careers Beyond Academia

To enroll for COMM 5660

Since the course is a 7-week 1st session class and the deadline was Sept. 5, to enroll, please email gradcareers@cornell.edu and we will forward the list of enrollees to the registrar, with the instructor’s consent.

Professor Bruce Lewenstein
303 Morrill Hall
607-255-8310 (office)
b.lewenstein@cornell.edu (e-mail)
Office hours (virtual): Tuesdays, 1:00-3:00pm and happily by appointment

Learning Objectives
After participating in this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss science communication opportunities, both within traditional scientific careers and as stand-alone careers
  • Begin identifying characteristics of potential audiences for science communication
  • Write drafts of short texts (such as blog posts, tweets, and similar items) for non-scientific audiences
  • Begin planning for media interviews
  • Discuss social, ethical, and scholarly issues associated with science communication

Course website and syllabus

Friday, 16 October 4:30 pm -6:00(ish) pm

REGISTER NOW for the open, public panel discussion on Opportunities for Public Communication in Science

Friday afternoon begins with a panel of speakers talking about opportunities in public communication followed by some informal discussion time with the speakers and participants.

speakers for Oct 16 panel discussion on Opportunities for Public Communication of Science

  • Ray Jayawardhana, Dean of Cornell University College of Arts & Sciences, Professor of Astronomy, and popular science writer (most recently, of the children’s book Child of the Universe [2020]).
  • Carlyn Buckler, Associate Professor of Practice, School of Integrated Plant Sciences, Cornell University
  • Geoff Hunt (Cornell, AB ‘03, Biochemistry), Public Outreach Specialist, American Society of Microbiology and co-organizer of SciEngage virtual science engagement group discussions
  • John Clarke, Director of Occupational Medicine, Cornell Health, and producer of “Health Hop®” and other rap-based public health videos, including ones about coronavirus

The evening ends with a virtual happy hour with informal discussion with participants, speakers and instructors.

Saturday and Sunday 17 & 18 October 9:00 am – 5:00 pm both days

Enrolled participants in COMM5660 continue throughout the weekend to learn more about public communication of science through short pre-recorded lectures. You will hone your own research messages through exercises and peer/professional feedback.

Saturday comprises writing for the public through press releases and blogs.  You’ll get practice.  Plenty of practice.  Sunday is devoted to constructing a message and delivering it in a broadcast media interview. Throughout the weekend we’ll also meet other scientists and science communicators, learning from their experience.


October 17, 2020
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
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