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Scientific Communication

Teachers: Matteo Merzagora, TRACES-ESPGG (with contributions from other members of the groupe Traces)

Schedule: 9 sessions in the second semester (Friday mornings)

Evaluation: The evaluation is based on three criteria: the participation to the class discussions and flash-workshops; the delivery of a 10 minutes presentation with visual supports on the subject of the student internship; the realisation of a group project of public science communication.

Deadlines: The scientific presentation is due at midterm (after 4 sessions); the group project is due at the one-before last class.


Communication skills are at the heart of scientific work. Communication is not a way to better «sell» research to funders, career enablers or the lay public. It is an intrinsic part of the research process itself: talking, listening, sharing, questioning… are communication activities which makes research possible. You don’t learn science communication to communicate better, you learn science communication to do better research. This consideration is un underlying assumption of the whole course.


The first part of the course will be devoted to some training on how to talk to a scientific audience and to the lay public. Students will learn basic skills of science communication, how to structure a communication, the importance of the identifying  the key messages, etc. They will be evaluated based on a short presentation about their internship, given to their colleagues.


The second part of the course will explore the reverse of the communication process : how to listen to society at large for the benefit of research. We will address the following question : how can a (future) scientist learn how to listen to the voices of art, culture, politics, society, etc.  in order to give a deeper meaning to his.her research work ? What are the skills that need to be developed ? How can we improve our research skills by learning to understand and interpret a book, a film, a survey of public opinion, an advertising campaign, a politician’s speech, etc ? Students will develop independent work in pairs or small groups, based on their research interests and cultural interests. They will have to present their analysis, reflections, and possibly practical realisations to the whole group.


Beside these two assignments, students will be evaluated according to their participation in discussions, their creativity, their proactivity.