The concept of History Communication draws upon the idea of “science communication” that has emerged over the past thirty years or so. With academic journals, professional organizations, several graduate programs offering master’s degrees or certificate programs in science and medical journalism, and ubiquitous public faces including such celebrity scholars as Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Grinspoon, Bill Nye, and Mary Roach, science communication has become an established part of academic and public intellectual culture.
The journal Science Communication “examines the nature of expertise, the diffusion of knowledge, and the communication of science and technology among professionals and to the public.” Science communicators work to translate complex, scientific ideas to the general public in ways that are clear, concise, and engaging.
Graduate and undergraduate programs in science communication have emerged to train students how to communicate effectively about science, medicine, and technology. Such programs emphasize journalistic skills including:
- Investigative research and reporting
- Writing for blogs and online magazines
- Pitching and producing long form essays and features for magazines and newspapers
- Multimedia communication like podcasting and documentaries for film and television
Science communications programs also serve to remind students and the public that science does not take place outside of the social and cultural realm, but rather shapes our society as a whole. MIT recommends that students in the Graduate Program in Science Writing take history, anthropology, sociology, and other courses in the Science, Technology, and Society program. Other programs examine the intersection between the humanities and the scientific fields by offering courses like:
- Science Unbound: Writing at the Edges of Science and Society (Boston University)
- Communicating Science: Connecting with the Community (Stony Brook University)
- Science, Media, and Society (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
The duration of most graduate programs is one year, with 9 months of classes and a summer internship. Students complete internships at newspapers and magazines, online magazines and blogs, institutional news offices, museums, government agencies, and radio programs. Some programs offer master’s degrees or PhDs, while others offer certificates only. A handful of schools also offer undergraduate majors or courses. See below for a few examples of science communication departments and program offerings.
- Science Journalism, Boston University
- Science Communication Program, University of California-Santa Cruz
- Science Writing, Johns Hopkins University
- Graduate Program in Science Writing, MIT
- Science, Health & Environmental Reporting, NYU
- Science and Medical Journalism, University of North Carolina
- Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, Stony Brook University
- Department of Life Sciences Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison