CPT-14306 Life Sciences for Communication Scientists


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper4
Group work4
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. BC Mulder
Lecturer(s)MSc M Garnier Ortiz
dr. ir. AJH van Vliet
dr. ir. GWJ van de Ven
ing. HCA Rijk
dr. BC Mulder
dr. F Ludwig
prof. dr. ir. MH Zwietering
Examiner(s)dr. BC Mulder

Language of instruction:

NL and/or EN


This course introduces communication students to key concepts and research problems in the life-sciences. Using models and theories from science communication, it surveys dominant and alternative ways of thinking about technology and societal change in the life-sciences. The course concentrates on six domains: health, food, urbanisation, climate change, natural resource management, and sustainability related to food and fibre production. At the end of the course, students will be able to make an informed choice which of the six domains to select as their focus area ('track') in following courses and their BSc thesis. The course will address aspects of science communication that enable students to understand the rationale of natural scientific and social scientific reasoning. The course follows a basic understanding of complex societal issues in life-science related domains. It starts with an introduction into the basics of communication science and practice, particularly as visible in media reports of scientific findings. The main part of the course introduces students to life sciences domains that address health, food, urbanisation, climate change, natural resource management and sustainability related to food and fibre production. The final part addresses the role of communication, and communication scientists, in bridging the gap between science and society.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- describe examples of life- science based approaches to complex societal problems in six specific life science domains
(health, food, urbanisation, climate change, natural resource management, and sustainability related to food and fibre production);
- use science communication models and approaches to explain relevant issues for strategic communication within
the life science domains, including tensions and opportunities in the communication between life scientists and societal stakeholders;
- apply science communication models and approaches to formulate and critically assess goals and means to effectively
communicate these issues;
- apply science communication principles to produce a communication item, e.g. a feature article, about societal
issues in a life science domain;
- reflect on the case for collaboration between life-sciences and communication theory, research and practice in
addressing complex societal challenges, and the added value of interdisciplinary collaboration;
- justify the choice of one of the six life science domains as the focus area ('track') in their minor program.


This course consists of (guest) lectures, group work and literature study. Co-teaching between communication and life-science experts will allow students to understand and appreciate the nature of interdisciplinary collaboration approaches to complex societal issues. Students will work in groups to report and reflect on life-science concepts, practices and contributions to societal issues. For this group work, students will interview one or more life scientists from a domain of their choice, within the context of a societal issue related to that life science domain. This will be reported in a report, which has the format of a scientific feature article (i.e. popular science article). 


- group assignments (33%);
- individual essay (17%);
- individual written exam (50%).
For successful completion of the course, students need a minimum mark of 5.5 for each component.


To be announced.

Compulsory for: BCLCommunication and Life SciencesBSc5MO