The internet is transforming the relationship between science and society. Open-access peer-reviewed journals, scientific blogs and online scientific communities have made science more accessible than ever. At the same time, the ease of online searching and ubiquity of social media has fostered the spread of misinformation and pseudoscience. As a result, social media literacy is increasingly important within the sphere of science.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Life Sciences Communication professor and chair Dominique Brossard has been appointed to an advisory committee that will oversee the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s newly announced Climate Communications Initiative (CCI).
“The National Academies have a vast library of authoritative information to help everyone from savvy citizens to responsible decision makers understand, prepare, and respond to climate change,” said Marcia McNutt, president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. “This initiative facilitates access to that storehouse to help protect the many sectors of human investment from unnecessary surprises.”
The following story was written by Brian Mattmiller of the Morgridge Institute for Research. It has been adapted and republished here.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication participated in an international workshop this month on the intersection of genome editing technology and national security.
The Oct. 11-13 conference, based in Hanover, Germany, assembled a global group of bioethics and government experts to address security questions on gene editing as they relate to human health, agriculture and the potential to genetically alter species. Experts from the United States and across Europe, China and India explored ideas for harmonizing gene editing policies across national borders.
The following story was written by Caroline Schneider of CALS External Relations. It has been adapted and republished here.
In early August 2017, an international team of scientists announced they had successfully edited the DNA of human embryos. As people process the political, moral, and regulatory issues of the technology — which nudges us closer to nonfiction than science fiction — a new study from LSC researchers shows the time is now to involve the American public in discussions about human genome editing.
In the study published Aug. 11 in the journal Science, researchers assessed what people in the United States think about the uses of human genome editing and how their attitudes may drive public discussion. They found a public divided on its uses but united in the importance of moving conversations forward.
“There are several pathways we can go down with gene editing,” says LSC professor Dietram Scheufele, lead author of the study and member of a National Academy of Sciences committee that compiled a report focused on human gene editing earlier this year. “Our study takes an exhaustive look at all of those possible pathways forward and asks where the public stands on each one of them.”
Friday June 16th, the Oxford University Press released The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication. The book, co-edited by LSC professor Dietram Scheufele, Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dan Kahan of Yale Law School, provides a comprehensive overview of the current issues and challenges facing science communication.
The handbook features essays from the leading scholars in science communication including LSC professor and chair Dominique Brossard and LSC faculty affiliate Michael Xenos. Many LSC alumni also contributed including Heather Akin (who will be an assistant professor at the University of Missouri this fall), Nan Li of Texas Tech University, and Sara K. Yeo of the University of Utah.
“For a long time, the scientific community has relied on intuition rather than empirical data when it came to communicating the value of science to different political and public audiences,” says Scheufele. “The handbook brings together some of the very best social scientists whose work helps us approach science communication from a truly scientific perspective.”
The handbook provides case studies of past science communication successes and failures, and identifies human biases that often affect the ways in which scientific information is processed. In addition, the book takes the next step and provides ways to overcome biases – such as selective exposure, motivated reasoning and the availability heuristic – and discusses how these biases are exacerbated by the changing media environment.
More information and purchase information is available at the Oxford University Press.
Story by Sarah Krier. Sarah is an undergraduate student majoring in LSC and the Department of Life Sciences Communication 2016-17 Lenore Landry Scholar
The 2016-2017 academic year marked the first year of the University of Wisconsin’s UniverCity Year program, where twenty-three classes across campus teamed up with the City of Monona to work on projects aimed at helping the city address key programs. The Department of Life Sciences Communication continued our tradition of engaging with Wisconsin communities by having two classes team up with UniverCity to help the City of Monona tackle projects while providing students an opportunity to immerse themselves in real-world professional experiences. One of LSC’s capstone classes developed a city-wide leaf management campaign, while students in LSC’s Information Radio class produced public service announcements for the city.
This semester’s LSC science communication colloquium brought acclaimed speakers from near and far. Every week of the semester attendees of the colloquium heard from experts in bioethics, science communication, scientific art, science and technology studies, science policy, and new information technologies, among other interesting areas.
Check out the list of speakers below. You can click each speakers’ name for more information about them. After each speaker, a link by their names will take you to a video and audio stream of their talk. Continue reading
Graduates from the Department of Life Sciences Communication go on to have successful careers in a wide range of industries – partly because the knowledge they learn at LSC can be applied to a wide variety of jobs. LSC alum, Sara Schoenborn (BS ’10) has used her expertise for a successful career.
After graduating, Sara pursued her dream of working in the media industry, working as the assistant editor for Agri-View, an agricultural newspaper in Wisconsin. Sara, who was also a Dairy Science major, found the job to be a perfect mix of her passions. While at Agri-View, she put to use the skills she learned at LSC, including researching and writing stories with compelling narratives, creating a strong digital media footprint, and designing print layouts. She also used the knowledge she learned in her classes to ensure she was portraying individuals in a fair and balanced way.
After approximately three years she decided it was time for a new challenge. In the spring of 2013, Sara became the executive director of Wisconsin FFA Foundation – an organization dedicated to making a positive difference in students’ lives through agricultural education. “I really viewed my job as a way to give back to an organization I was a part of while I was in high school. It was my opportunity to give back and carry on that tradition for other students,” Sara said.
The Department of Life Sciences Communication has long been a strong contributor to the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. That relationship continued when LSC professor Dietram Scheufele was asked by the National Research Council to serve as the vice chair for NASEM’s ‘Science of Science Communication’ committee. The committee’s report titled, “Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda” was released today.
The panel brought together a diverse group of scientists and science communicators with the goal of creating a report to help guide research on how to communicate about controversial science effectively.
The report includes an analysis of what is currently known about effective modes of communication, an overview of the major challenges for science communication, and outlines areas for future research to promote more effective communication.
Undergraduate alumna of the Department of Life Sciences Communication leave campus with strong theoretical knowledge, valuable communication skills, and lasting connections. That was certainly the case for LSC graduate Megan Madsen, BS 2011.
While a LSC undergraduate student, Madsen interned at IceCube Neutrino Observatory. She was also involved in the UW-Madison National Agri-Marketing Association chapter (NAMA) and the NAMA marketing team. While a part of the NAMA marketing team Madsen worked alongside fellow students to create and present a comprehensive marketing plan for a product not yet introduced to the market. LSC Faculty Associate Sarah Botham serves as the NAMA faculty advisor, and it was during this time that Madsen and Botham formed a strong mentor relationship.
After graduating Madsen continued to use her science communication skills at IceCube, where she worked full-time as a community and education coordinator for over four years. During that time, Madsen further developed the skills and knowledge she gained at LSC and continued to nurture the relationships she made while a student at UW-Madison.
When it came time for a new challenge, Madsen reached out to Botham for professional guidance. Botham, who is an entrepreneur as well as a writer, consultant and educator, had the perfect opportunity. She had recently started a new business – WiscoBoxes™ – a themed gift box company that features only and all Wisconsin products in boxes with themes such as a badger box, a baby box, a chocolate and wine box, and others. Madsen is now the brand manager for WiscoBoxes where she is at work designing a company website, conducting market research and developing product guidelines for the company.