LSC 432: Social Media for the Life Sciences Summer 2021

The department of Life Sciences Communication is a world leader in science communication research, education and practice. We invite both scientists and communications professionals to join us this summer for LSC 432: Social Media for the Life Sciences.

This online course runs June 1-July 4 with an asynchronous structure so you can fit it into your busy lifestyle!

In the past 20 years, the way we communicate has been fundamentally changed. Countless technologies have become mainstream communication tools. These tools have literally changed our lives and the world (sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse).

In the United States, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, SnapChat, Pinterest, WhatsApp, TikTok, Live video, Content Marketing (e.g., blogging), along with smart phones, tablets, smart devices (e.g. Alexa) drones and other tools have had major impacts on how we communicate with one another, how we learn about our world, and how we live our lives. Social Listening, Social Media Monitoring, Influencer Marketing and more are now skill sets organizations of all sizes utilize to better communicate.

With this as a backdrop, LSC 432 is a survey course exploring the communication and community impacts of social media, current social media tools, and the principles of how the different social media tools are used and how they work. In this 5-week summer course, we will explore social media from strategic, applied and tactical perspectives. Working in the social media field is challenging. The tools and technologies change at unprecedented speed. Because of this, I believe in emphasizing overarching principles versus specific tactics because tactics change but principles do not. It’s easy to learn specific tactics by doing simple web searches and following industry thought leaders. However, few courses or sites focus on core communication principles.

The foundational principles you will learn in this class can be applied to any field inside or outside the life sciences arena. For this reason, there will be a loose focus on the life sciences and more of a focus on principles. However, it’s important to note the principles you are learning very much apply to virtually any area in or outside the life sciences.

Quotes from professionals who completed the course in summer 2020:

“This course is a good refresher for me. I am currently a working professional in communications and the last time I took a social media class was 5 or 6 years ago. It was good to get a refreshed and updated look at what all the social media platforms could do for me.”

“I chose to take this course because I don’t have social media experience and I’ve been working on trying to get a new job and many companies want you to have social media experience. I took this course to understand the platforms and utilize them a bit better. I feel a lot more confident in my abilities now than I did before.”

I’m interested in enrolling in this class, what’s next?

Professionals and non-UW students who want to take LSC online courses and are not currently enrolled students, need to first complete a free application to be a UW-Madison “special student” at least one month prior to the start of the course in order to enroll in courses at the university. The application can be found here.

Applicants will be asked to select their student status in the application. Most likely, professionals interested in courses offered by the Department of Life Sciences Communication will fall under the category of UNDS (Professional Development or Personal Interest) or UNRS (Preparation for Admission to Graduate or Professional School).

Please Note: The special student application asks for a statement of interest, but this can be a short sentence stating the class of interest.

Information about special student tuition and fees can be found on the Adult Career and Special Student Services’ tuition and fees webpage.

For additional information on special student status, refer to the university special student section of the UW-Madison Continuing Studies website.

Contact Tera Holtz Wagner at if you have any questions!