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SCOM406 Science Communication Strategies and Resources

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Theoretical communication principles about complex information with non-specialist audiences are used to develop communication strategies and resources that connect science and society, for museum exhibitions, education resources or persuasive communication.

In SCOM 406 you will explore creative approaches to communicating science in museums and other science engagement settings. Emphasis is on science communication for lifelong learning via a range of avenues, which may include museums, science centres, national parks and other natural areas, participatory citizen science and science events. In this paper, you will learn basic theoretical principles of communication about complex information with non-specialist audiences.

The theoretical foundation will help you design more appropriate and effective communication resources. You will gain an awareness of methodologies of market research and project evaluation. You will produce science communication resources to add to your professional portfolio.You will have opportunities to improve your written and oral presentation skills, provide constructive feedback to your peers, prepare and present a professional consultancy report, design a science exhibition, and develop and present an interpretive experience.

Paper title Science Communication Strategies and Resources
Paper code SCOM406
Subject Science Communication
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,348.60
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,967.53

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Normally available only to postgraduate students.
Teaching staff

Professor Nancy Longnecker

Paper Structure

This paper will meet for one session each week. The weekly sessions comprise various activities including lectures, group discussions, practicals and field trips as appropriate.

The structure of this class's sessions will vary from week to week. Some weeks, especially early in the semester will be heavily lecture and discussion based. Discussions will be based on blog readings and posts and activities that relate to assignments (e.g. brainstorming for exhibition ideas). Some weeks, the class will meet at another venue for a field trip, as per the paper schedule.

Teaching Arrangements
One 3-hour session each week.
Textbooks are not required for this paper.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Cultural understanding, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit you should have

  1. An understanding of current theories of communication, the ability to identify and access relevant scholarly visitor studies and informal education literature, and the ability to write about science communication with reference to that scholarly literature
  2. The ability to identify objectives and audiences and appropriate communication approaches for those different objectives and audiences
  3. Familiarity with evaluation of effectiveness of exhibits and interpretation
  4. The ability to produce a professional consultancy report
  5. The ability to work effectively as part of a team
  6. The ability to participate in exhibition design and to create engaging material for it
  7. Experience of delivering an engaging interpretive experience
  8. The ability to reflect on your learning process

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 14:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41