Background
If we want to educate science and technology bachelors to become science communication professionals, which theoretical background do we have to offer them and which skills do they need to have? At the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands we designed a master curriculum on science communication. To do this we made use of design methodology to help us structure and justify the choices we had to make. It became the start of PhD‐research into science communication curriculum design.

Objective
The objective of the PCST presentation is to answer the question: how to design a coherent science communication curriculum that is able to meet the academic criteria and to equip science and technology students to be well‐educated science communication professionals as well.

Methods
To realise this objective we made use of a conceptual‐analytic exploration, based on literature about:
‐ designing in general and curriculum design in particular;
‐ science communication literature (on science communication definitions and on communication theories);
‐ criteria for master competences used in national and international universities.
And we used descriptive exploration, like
‐ job descriptions of different communication professions at various levels;
‐ interviews with science communication professionals;
‐ comparison of some science communication master curricula in the Netherlands and the UK.

Results
We developed a systematic approach for designing the science communication master curriculum. Starting with the problem definition a detailed inventory of various, often conflicting, requirements was made. Based on all these requirements we formulated the basic principles of the curriculum.
In the science communication curriculum in Delft these basic principles relate to the mission and the Unique Selling Propositions of the Science communication section, and to the didactics of the study programme. Some of these principles for our educational programme were: focus on science communication on meso level (between universities, other knowledge institutes, industry and government); integration of science and technology and communication (for instance by focussing on design processes in both domains) and integration of theory and practice.

To meet the desired career requirements of the student, we distinguished between the different roles our prospective graduates are going to perform in society: science communication researcher, designer or professional. For each of the roles competences were specified. Some competences are relevant for all of the roles, others are role‐specific. To gain insight into competences a communication professional needs to have, we used job descriptions of different communication professions at various levels and interviewed science communication professionals. These sources of information were also useful to determine which particular skills and theories are necessary to reach the final qualifications.

In a later stage we addressed the question how knowledge and skills could be developed in particular courses. This resulted in specific curricula for the various roles and courses like Designing communication products, Science marketing and Communication policy and strategy. In all of the courses training of specific communication skills are incorporated.

Conclusions
The design methodology that has been used enables us to make systematic and considered choices in different stages and shows how these choices are interrelated. Choosing basic principles in the first stage of the design process of the science communication curriculum of the Delft University of Technology resulted in a coherent set of courses that are tailor made for the roles its students are going to perform in society. This structured approach also allows for systematic evaluation of the courses and of the curriculum and will be of help in optimizing the master programme. Evaluation and optimisation will be addressed in future stages of the PhD research.

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 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Mastering science communication

Caroline Wehrmann   Delft University of Technology

Martin Jacobs   Delft University of Technology

Maarten Van der Sanden   Delft University of Technology

Background
If we want to educate science and technology bachelors to become science communication professionals, which theoretical background do we have to offer them and which skills do they need to have? At the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands we designed a master curriculum on science communication. To do this we made use of design methodology to help us structure and justify the choices we had to make. It became the start of PhD‐research into science communication curriculum design.

Objective
The objective of the PCST presentation is to answer the question: how to design a coherent science communication curriculum that is able to meet the academic criteria and to equip science and technology students to be well‐educated science communication professionals as well.

Methods
To realise this objective we made use of a conceptual‐analytic exploration, based on literature about:
‐ designing in general and curriculum design in particular;
‐ science communication literature (on science communication definitions and on communication theories);
‐ criteria for master competences used in national and international universities.
And we used descriptive exploration, like
‐ job descriptions of different communication professions at various levels;
‐ interviews with science communication professionals;
‐ comparison of some science communication master curricula in the Netherlands and the UK.

Results
We developed a systematic approach for designing the science communication master curriculum. Starting with the problem definition a detailed inventory of various, often conflicting, requirements was made. Based on all these requirements we formulated the basic principles of the curriculum.
In the science communication curriculum in Delft these basic principles relate to the mission and the Unique Selling Propositions of the Science communication section, and to the didactics of the study programme. Some of these principles for our educational programme were: focus on science communication on meso level (between universities, other knowledge institutes, industry and government); integration of science and technology and communication (for instance by focussing on design processes in both domains) and integration of theory and practice.

To meet the desired career requirements of the student, we distinguished between the different roles our prospective graduates are going to perform in society: science communication researcher, designer or professional. For each of the roles competences were specified. Some competences are relevant for all of the roles, others are role‐specific. To gain insight into competences a communication professional needs to have, we used job descriptions of different communication professions at various levels and interviewed science communication professionals. These sources of information were also useful to determine which particular skills and theories are necessary to reach the final qualifications.

In a later stage we addressed the question how knowledge and skills could be developed in particular courses. This resulted in specific curricula for the various roles and courses like Designing communication products, Science marketing and Communication policy and strategy. In all of the courses training of specific communication skills are incorporated.

Conclusions
The design methodology that has been used enables us to make systematic and considered choices in different stages and shows how these choices are interrelated. Choosing basic principles in the first stage of the design process of the science communication curriculum of the Delft University of Technology resulted in a coherent set of courses that are tailor made for the roles its students are going to perform in society. This structured approach also allows for systematic evaluation of the courses and of the curriculum and will be of help in optimizing the master programme. Evaluation and optimisation will be addressed in future stages of the PhD research.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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