The Art of Science Communication
Since 2009, I have been teaching class on film-making about climate change. I am passionate about engaging students in science and climate change is one of the most accessible and pressing scientific topics of our time. This class is cross-listed under the Technology and Media (TAM) program and two CU schools: Arts and Sciences, EBIO and College of Media, Communication and Information. To watch our student films, please go here.
From the syllabus:
A goal of this class is to invite you on a personal journey. We want to provide the opportunity for you to think critically AND emotionally about a pressing environmental, political, and social issue. Climate change is part of a larger discussion related to sustainability and is a pressing and pervasive issue from economic, political and environmental perspectives. We want you to leave our class conversant about your views on this issue. Where do you stand? What should be done? We welcome ALL views on climate change with the exception of apathy or no opinion. By the end of this class, you MUST leave with an opinion, one that you have thought about critically, one that you can defend, and one that you can express in front of several audiences, in writing and on film.
The task at hand is interdisciplinary and thus we draw on the tools of story-telling, film-making, effective communication, and art in various forms. Your own personal experience is critical and something to learn how to incorporate into your narrative: what is the starting point in your journey? What defines your views? What do you want to communicate with others? Who is your target audience and why? We will help you define answers to these questions through in-class discussion, bringing in world-class leaders in the science of climate change, science writing and the performance arts, and one-on-one dialog through weekly journal assignments.
In Spring 2021, Dr. Drew Schield and I co-created a new upper-level undergrad/graduate course on Speciation. This class is taught in the spring term and will also be taught concurrently by Dr. Schield at the University of Virginia.
From the syllabus:
The process of speciation is fundamental to understanding life’s diversity, with implications for how we study evolution, how we define species in nature, and the processes by which they form. In this class, we will explore models of adaptive and non-adaptive speciation and how we test and distinguish among these processes, including a focus on five key factors in speciation. Classes will include short lectures, discussions, and individual and collaborative group activities. In the final section of the course, students will work individually or in groups to develop a final project focused on a biological system that has been useful for studying speciation, including an integration of what is known about the key factors of speciation, and a synthesis of what broad knowledge has been gained about the speciation process from studying that system.