Evolving from the Postgraduate Diploma in Natural History Filmmaking in the Department of Zoology, the Centre for Science Communication was founded in 2008 by Professor Lloyd Spencer Davis, the Stuart Chair in Science Communication. Today, the Centre is proud to be New Zealand’s original tertiary-based institute devoted to the public communication of science. We are one of the largest facilities in the world offering specialised degrees at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in this burgeoning field. We offer endorsements in filmmaking, writing, and science in society.
Our students - more than 300 to date - come from around the globe and boast an impressive catalogue of achievements. Some have won the most prestigious awards in their industries for their creative contributions, including an Emmy Award (as well as two Emmy nominations), the New Zealand Book Award for “Best First Book,” a Wildscreen Panda Award (also known as the “Green Oscar”), and a WWF Conservation Innovation Award.
What really sets us apart is our focus on both creative and academic output. Our students and staff are not only creative professionals, but academic scholars in the field of science communication, with most conducting theory-based empirical research. Key to the Centre’s success is its world-renowned research staff and practicing science communicators.
The current Director of the Centre, Associate Professor Jesse Bering, is an experimental psychologist who is also an acclaimed essayist and popular science writer. Professor Lloyd Davis, a zoologist and award-winning author and filmmaker, also contributes to the writing programme and oversees the distance degree option. The filmmaking stream includes hands-on instruction by Robert Brown (described by Sir David Attenborough as one of the top three wildlife cameramen in the world) and Phil Davison, a longstanding producer of documentaries, television, and films. Professor Nancy Longnecker, a pioneering academic figure in the study of science communication, spearheads the science in society programme as well as oversees the on-campus postgraduate coursework programmes. Dr. Jenny Rock, a zoologist and specialist in multimedia whose artwork has been featured in important museum exhibitions, coordinates our PhD programme. And Dr. Fabien Medvecky, President of the Science Communicators Association of New Zealand (SCANZ), heads our undergraduate programme and is a scholar whose work embodies the Centre’s interdisciplinary emphasis.
The manager for the Centre for Science Communication, Sue Harvey, has worked at the University of Otago since 1994 and has a wide range of senior administrative experience. Steve Ting, a professional filmmaker (and an alumnus of the Centre’s first graduating class of 2009), provides additional support as a Teaching Fellow.