CPT-38006 Science Communication 2.0: Dialogue and Transdisciplinarity


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work7
Course coordinator(s)dr. KA Legun
Lecturer(s)CL Gillies
dr. KA Legun
ML Derkzen
dr. AJK Pols
dr. MPM Bekker
Examiner(s)dr. KA Legun

Language of instruction:



Current societal challenges include issues such as environmental degradation, climate change,  health inequalities and ageing societies. These challenges are inherently complex and many different scientific and professional disciplines are trying to understand and solve them from their own perspective. These different perspectives can lead to heated debates between scientists, policy makers, companies and citizens about “the right way” to solve things. While still considered authoritative domains, science and technology have also become contested areas. Online communities argue against vaccination, nutritional advice is openly disputed, science blogs fight over climate change, and cases of scientific fraud dominate the news. These trends have implications for Science Communication in support of different fields in practice such as health promotion, developing new technologies,  or promoting sustainable practices and behaviors,  and a need to move beyond a paradigm in which Science sends messages to Society, but rather enters in a dialogue with it.

This course looks at new ways for Science to interact and communicate with society, and looks at a number of related questions. How come that there is distrust in science, and what does this development mean for the ways in which science and technology are communicated in society? How are scientific experts, communication professionals and organizations involved supposed to deal with this situation? What role is there for citizens and other stakeholders? How can we move forward with research and action on complex societal challenges, while taking into account different disciplines and stakeholder perspectives? How to deal with issues of responsibility, ethics and inclusion in terms of doing and communicating science and technology?

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand and explain the paradigm shift from mono-, via inter- to transdisciplinary thinking applied to the field of Communication, Health and Life Sciences;
- understand and explain different types and modes of science communication and their significance to complex societal issues;
- assess trans-disciplinary research & science communication interventions for a complex societal change, i.e. identify and explain the core theoretical concepts in the field of science and technology communication, with a special focus on the science-society relationship;
- assess how ethical considerations can be taken up in transdisciplinary science and science and technology processes through the  concepts of responsible research and innovation and what this means for science communication;
- apply these insights on transdisciplinarity, science communication, and responsible research and innovation, to the student’s fields of interest in realms such as health, nutrition, life sciences, and sustainability transformations.


Lectures, tutorials, group assignment.


- individual assignment which assesses knowledge of relevant theories and concepts (50%).
- group assignment in which students design a science communication intervention (e.g., a press release, stakeholder dialogue) in an area of interest (50%).

Compulsory for: MCHCommunication, Health and Life SciencesMSc1MO