Science in Dialogue

Doel vak

To gain knowledge of and insight into:
- the basic concepts and issues in the understanding of science-society
interactions, both from a science and technology studies and
communication science perspective
- the nature and course of interpersonal and group communication
processes relevant to the formal and informal dialogue between science
and society
- the nature and form of dialogical science communication, aimed at
reflective learning and mutual understanding

To acquire or improve:
- individual skills for effective interpersonal communication
- individual skills for the design and facilitation of the
science-society dialogue

Inhoud vak

This course examines the public character of scientific controversy and
focuses on the communicative aspects of a fruitful science-society
dialogue. At the dawn of the 21st century, science, and particularly
fields that combine science and engineering such as nanotechnology and
synthetic biology, holds a great promise for the progress of our
societies. At the same time, these developments are controversial. They
lead to a variety of concerns related to risks, benefits and wider moral
issues. Nanotechnology creates materials with novel characteristics that
help us, but may also contain risks for health and environment.
Synthetic biology develops new biological systems that may be very
useful, but radically change the nature and meaning of life. Clearly,
advances in science do not always match the needs, desires and
expectations of society. On the other hand, parts of society might not
always appreciate the nature and scope of scientific findings. For a
fruitful relationship between science and society, a constructive
science-society dialogue is necessary.
This course offers advanced lectures on the basic concepts and issues of
dialogical science communication: communication, learning, dialogue,
understanding, controversy, democracy. A series of workshops and small
group assignments presents communicative tools and spaces such as
discussion games, science theatre and multimedia platforms that can be
used to design and facilitate science-society interactions. Training
workshops will focus on improving the students’ individual communication
and facilitation skills. The students’ individual learning curve as a
science communicator and facilitator is self-evaluated by means of a
refle ction report.
Every course week is completed with a mini-exam.


Lectures (14h), Workgroups (28h), Training workshops (24h), Dialogue
presentations (12h), Selfstudy
(remaining hours)


Group assignment (50%), Take home exam (30%), Reflection report (20%).
All assignments must be passed (grade > 6).


Is announced on blackboard one month before start of the course


Optional course in the MSc specialization Science Communication

Overige informatie

Independence and a cooperative attitude is expected. Attendance to
training workshops is mandatory.