CPT-24803 Communication and Technology


Studiepunten 3.00

Course coordinator(s)dr. BC Mulder
Lecturer(s)dr. BC Mulder
Examiner(s)dr. BC Mulder

Language of instruction:

NL and/or EN


This intensive course provides insights into theoretical and practical-strategic matters of communication about novel technologies and their application in society, e.g. novel products, foodstuffs or medical services. Special attention will be given to the life sciences and life-science technologies such as biotechnology, genomics and (bio-)nanotechnology. In our rapidly changing knowledge society, experts and non-experts tend to have different appreciations of science and technology issues. What exactly is the nature of these differences and what are the communicative implications? How does communication affect the perception of novel technologies, their risks and benefits? How do people process complex information regarding particular risks and what is the role of emotions therein? How does media coverage of risks affect the public sense of anxiety? What is the role of trust in communication about novel technologies and how is trust built or undermined? The course will introduce relevant perspectives from innovation theory, social psychology and sociology. Working in small groups, we analyse the communication issues around specific technological innovations of the students' choice, conduct a small piece of focus group research and develop a communication plan. Intensive feedback on weekly assignments and group work help students to translate theoretical insights into their own applied communication strategy.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain the importance of communication in and for (your future) professional practice in (bio-) technology;
- describe research conducted in the field of biotechnology, investigating the factors that determine whether or not people accept and use biotechnological inventions;
- describe how knowledge, attitudes, social influences and risk perceptions can shape people's willingness to accept biotechnology and its applications;
- identify several communication techniques to influence knowledge, attitudes, social influences and risk perceptions and thereby biotech acceptance;
- describe the potential influence of communication messages through various channels (i.e., individual, group, mass media);
- adapt and conduct a small focus group discussion on the acceptance of a particular biotechnology, report the results, and give a presentation on this study;
- on a basic level contribute to legitimate and effective forms of communication about biotechnology:
  * apply knowledge about when and how to strategically communicate in order to increase the chance that people will accept and use biotech inventions;
  * design a simple communication strategy that targets determinants of biotechnology adoption.


The course consists of lectures, group work (partly supervised) and self-guided study (reading of core literature). Small working groups analyse communication challenges for a technological innovation of their choice, conduct and analyse a focus group on the topic and develop a communication plan. Each groups writes a report (with close guidance and feedback) and presents their main results in class. Students are expected to attend all lecture and working group sessions and to actively contribute to all activities.


The students will be evaluated on the basis of their theoretical knowledge and their analytical and facilitating skills with respect to communication about technological innovations. The final grade for the course will be based on a written exam (50%) and a group assignment (50%).


To be announced.

Verplicht voor: BBTBiotechnologyBSc3MO