New certificate provides science communication training for all UW-Madison undergraduates

The Department of Life Sciences Communication (LSC) just made education and training in science communication at UW-Madison even more accessible by adding a new undergraduate certificate in science communication to their degree programs. This certificate gives students from every college and major at UW the opportunity to earn transcriptable expertise in science communication alongside their major field of study.

Dietram Scheufele, professor in the Life Sciences Communications Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, teaches an LSC course at Hiram Smith Hall (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)


“COVID-19 has been a powerful illustration of how crucial effective science communication is,” says LSC Director of Academic Programs Dietram Scheufele, “and we’re very excited to roll out a new certificate that will allow all UW students to work with some of the world’s leading scholars and teachers in science communication here at UW.”


Earning a certificate in science communication will expand opportunities for all UW students to gain a competitive edge in the job market. Students’ ability to communicate effectively about emerging technologies has long made LSC graduates highly sought after by employers in life sciences and technology industries, public policy, and a variety of other fields.


“In my conversations with employers, it is clear that they are looking for science, technology, engineering, and math graduates who are also effective communicators, especially for those who they hope will stay at the company long-term,” says LSC Academic Advising Manager, Tera Holtz Wagner.


Public debates surrounding genetic engineering, climate change, and even vaccine safety demonstrate how vital science communication is to all aspects of our lives. “As industries and communities are transformed by artificial intelligence, breakthroughs in human genome editing, and constantly changing online environments,” says LSC Department Chair Dominique Brossard, “we are training our majors and certificate students to become leaders in rolling out and communicating these innovations while understanding their potential legal, social and ethical implications.”


Students discuss in an LSC class session in Hiram Smith Hall (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Certificate students will learn what social science research tells us about effective communication strategies and combine this foundational work with practical experience in science communication. The certificate in science communication requires 12 credits of course work across various areas, including social media, visual communication, science writing, and risk communication.


The certificate will begin enrolling students in fall 2022. However, students can get a jump start on the certificate by taking a class in LSC this summer. LSC is offering six summer courses, all but one of which can be counted towards the undergraduate science communication certificate.


The Department of Life Sciences Communication at UW-Madison is one of the oldest science communication programs in the country. They have been training and educating undergraduate and graduate students for over 100 years who have become global leaders in academia, industry, and policy related to science. More information about the undergraduate certificate and summer courses offered by LSC can be found on the LSC website.


Story by Brianna Van Matre, LSC M.S. ’22