MIT science communication

Last Updated on January 18, 2023

The MIT Museum is a place where all visitors are invited to discover the technological and scientific advances developed by the MIT community. We’re proud to be part of the Institute’s broad efforts at increasing science literacy among the general public and improving science communication across all fields.

Here are just a few of the resources for science communication and science journalism at the MIT Museum and beyond.

John Durant, Mark R. Epstein (Class of 1963) Director, teaches STS.034 Science Communication: A Practical Guide. Read a New York Times profile of Durant and the role of events like the Cambridge Science Festival in engaging the curiosity of non-scientists.

The Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, founded in 1983, seeks to nurture and enhance the ability of journalists from around the world to accurately document and illuminate the often complex intersection of science, technology and human culture. It does so through an acclaimed fellowship program and science-focused seminars.

Undark Magazine, an independent digital publication supported by the Knight Science Journalism Program explores science at the point where it intersects—and sometimes collides—with politics, economics and culture.

STS.034 Science Communication: A Practical Guide

Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am-12:30pm in 4-257
No prerequisites.
Enrollment limited to 25.

Click here for the online subject listing

Instructor: Bina Venkataraman, Director of Global Policy at the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard and Former Obama White House Climate Advisor

How can scientists reach the public with information critical to their lives and to their future? How do the public and policymakers perceive science and scientists, and why? Can we bridge the divide between the findings of science and the decisions being made everyday in our world – to prevent disease outbreaks, fight climate change, and explore the cosmos?

STS.034 invites you to hone the art and practice of communicating science. The goal is to learn both by doing and by critical reflection. In seminars, we delve into current and past examples of science communication – from radio broadcasts to Presidential memos to witness testimony to live storytelling – and investigate what works and what falls short of reaching its intended audience. You’ll tap your creative and your analytical minds to give short talks and try your hand writing an opinion column for a mainstream audience. In workshops, we’ll critique and encourage each other’s writing, and engage in experiments that help you each develop your capacity for making your message heard.

During the course we will read one extraordinary book, Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson, and a variety of articles and audio and film recordings will be fodder for class discussions. You’ll be invited to be inventive, thinking about how you believe the next generation of science communication should evolve.

By the end of the course, you will have a deeper understanding of a wide range of audiences – from everyday citizens to Congressional leaders to courtroom juries – and of media formats ranging from op-eds to broadcasts to museum exhibitions to Twitter. You’ll know how to navigate opportunities and demands that come your way in the future to communicate about science, and will acquire the framework and tools to engage the public on some of the most important topics of our time.

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