March 31, 2015


MSC 1003: The Rhetoric of Science

Information, Media and Communication Literacy for the Sciences

Course Syllabus 2016/17

Tuesdays, 1-4pm
263 McCaul St Auditorium

Academic Rationale: To allow students to explore strategic approaches and media channels to communicating scientific and biological knowledge for effective engagement with target audiences.
Learning Objectives: At the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Tailor communications for different audiences;
  • Identify key debates that result from conflicting stakeholder views;
  • Communicate complex ideas effectively; and
  • Demonstrate a variety of reflective approaches to writing challenges.
Outcomes Students will be engaged in a seminar style course that will require them to:

  • Produce a sample writing portfolio;
  • Conduct a small scale collaborative communication project in targeted community / group;
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills via an academic paper, ethics proposal, or other form of substantive individual writing related to practices associated with translational research;
Description: This course introduces issues in scientific communication with a focus on communicating complex concepts to a range of target audiences to accomplish specific outcomes. The course is divided into three main themes: communication strategies, contexts, and channels.

Practice is the best way to improve communication. To this end, students will write a weekly assignment. Each week the nature of the assignment will change slightly and students will be encouraged to experiment with style, delivery, organization and voice. Students will also work together to identify a knowledge translation problem and in collaborative teams will be asked to communicate complex scientific concepts that help positively impact human health of targeted constituents.

Readings and media assignments will include a mix of theory and practical examples of health and science communication and will be posted to the course website at least a week prior to the relevant lecture.

Teaching Methods: Teaching will be performed through a variety of methods, including (but not limited to): lectures, multimedia presentations, readings, class discussion and individual and group assignments.
Course Values: This is a professional Master’s program course and students have a broad range experiences. Students are expected to use the experience and knowledge they bring into the course to help define their learning objectives, contribute to the course content, and complement their own learning experience and that of their classmates.

Learning requires the active participation of the learners, so while the Course Director(s) provide an outline and structure for the course; present a framework for seminars; define assignments and assign readings; it is ultimately the active participation of learners that will largely define the scope of their learning and assignments in this course.

We learn together, from one another, and relate the knowledge learned through the course to our past experiences and imagined future opportunities. So, all participants are expected to read the articles prior to class, ensure consistent attendance and participation. Students are expected to contribute and share relevant ideas, readings, materials and insights, that may contribute to their individual and the collective learning experience.

Course Structure The course will meet for three hours each week for twelve weeks, and be generally structured around a 1-hour topic discussion, 1-hour guest speaker or workshop, and 1-hour group collaborative activity.
Grading & Assignments  The course will include assessment of individual and group work.  Students will receive more detailed assignment instructions in class.

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