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67026-01 - Kolloquium: Science Communication in Action 3 KP

Semester Herbstsemester 2024
Angebotsmuster Jedes Herbstsemester
Dozierende Aya Kachi (aya.kachi@unibas.ch, BeurteilerIn)
* “Science communication”? *

When we say science communication, we often imagine a situation where scientists attempt to deliver technical information to the public and policymakers. In this course, we will use a broader definition of science communication; we will also consider many other situations where we need to communicate technical information such as research findings and policy designs in various contexts.

For example, when professors (scientists) teach technical topics to students, that is already a type of science communication. Scientists also need to discuss their research findings among each other, both within and between different disciplines. It is also scientists’ responsibility to inform the public, policymakers, and media about their findings. Citizens, too, debate on technologies, policies, and products citing scientific evidence they have seen somewhere (!). Political parties and individual politicians might try to talk citizens into their preferred policies using evidence they got from scientists. Similarly, even product marketing is an effort by companies to lure consumers into buying their products. Here too, companies use various research findings to illuminate the products’ advantages. Similar communications happen also within firms and governments when the staff reports their analyses to CEOs and managers.

Science communication as such is not only a task for professional researchers. In fact, nearly every phase of our life involves different types of science communication.

* Good communication and information improve our decision-making *

Now, why is it important for us to think about science communication? It’s because successful communication gives us relevant and accurate information about complex topics. Accurate information in turn helps us make better decisions in life. In other words, good information should help us choose behaviors, products, and policies that are better aligned with our goals and preferences! (Shouldn’t they?)

For example, imagine we have a clear preference for achieving good health, which is obviously a meaningful goal. However, if health experts do not communicate possible treatments effectively, or if we don’t have the necessary skills for understanding the evidence provided by the health experts, we can end up choosing a treatment that does not improve our health even though we wanted to. If you are a policymaker trying to achieve a certain policy goal (e.g., reduce poverty), again, you need to understand the scientific findings that tend to connect your policy goal to the right policy designs.

Same goes for any decisions about personal finance, career, products, lifestyle, and so on. This is why a good communication -both as a sender and receiver of the information- has a significant influence on our life and happiness.

* Bad communication and information can harm, and they are everywhere *

But we all know that things are not that simple. We are constantly surrounded by both accurate and inaccurate information. You might have heard of the expressions, “misinformation,” “disinformation,” and sometimes “malinformaion.”

The crucial point here is that even with our best intention to bring technical and useful information as accurately as possible, there are still many reasons we end up providing wrong information or interpret the information inaccurately.

Is there something we can do about it?

* This colloquium *

In this colloquim, we are going to discuss why we tend to face these challenges. In doing so, we will look into the heterogeneous incentives (interests) of various involved actors, such as professional reserachers, media, policymakers, industry, research funding agencies, etc. (Don’t worry if you don’t understand why they are relevant yet.) We will also shed light on the fact that the practice of science always involves some uncertainty and that related technologies are advancing faster and faster, which make the communication even more difficult. And yet, the scientific community is expected more and more to engage with society and show their findings in an accessible manner.

Through our discussions, we will try to understand why all these factors combined pose great challenges in communciating (sending, receiving, and interpreting) science. Overall, understanding such mechanisms through discussions is the main point of this colloquium. Eventually, it has something to do with our mindset, too.

Literatur All materials are available on ADAM.

Required readings.

- [Book] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. "Communicating science effectively: A research agenda." (2017).

- [Book; Read the introduction chapter] Olson, Randy. Don't be such a scientist: Talking substance in an age of style. Island Press, 2018.

Recommended readings.

- Other recommended readings materials will be from published articles and book chapters.


Teilnahmebedingungen Willingness to participate in class discussions, think together, and come up with meaningful questions.
Anmeldung zur Lehrveranstaltung Registration: Please enroll in the Online Services (services.unibas.ch);

Eucor-Students and mobility students of other Swiss Universities or the FHNW first have to register at the University of Basel BEFORE the start of the course and receive their login data by post (e-mail address of the University of Basel). Processing time up to a week! Detailed information can be found here: https://www.unibas.ch/de/Studium/Mobilitaet.html
After successful registration you can enroll for the course in the Online Services (services.unibas.ch).

Applies to everyone: Enrolment = Registration for the course and the exam!
Unterrichtssprache Englisch
Einsatz digitaler Medien kein spezifischer Einsatz


Intervall Wochentag Zeit Raum
wöchentlich Montag 14.15-16.00 Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118


Datum Zeit Raum
Montag 16.09.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 23.09.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 30.09.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 07.10.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 14.10.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 21.10.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 28.10.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 04.11.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 11.11.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 18.11.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 25.11.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 02.12.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Montag 09.12.2024 14.15-16.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118
Module Modul: Transfer Skills (Bachelorstudium: Wirtschaftswissenschaften)
Modul: Wahlbereich in Wirtschaftswissenschaften (Bachelor Studienfach: Wirtschaftswissenschaften)
Wahlbereich Bachelor Wirtschaftswissenschaften: Empfehlungen (Bachelorstudium: Wirtschaftswissenschaften (Studienbeginn vor 01.08.2021))
Leistungsüberprüfung Leistungsnachweis
Hinweise zur Leistungsüberprüfung The overall assessment of your performance depends on a mix of the following:
- Attendance and active participation (30%)
- Participation in online surveys (10%)
- Homework assignments and final assignment (60%)
An-/Abmeldung zur Leistungsüberprüfung Anm.: Belegen Lehrveranstaltung; Abm.: stornieren
Wiederholungsprüfung keine Wiederholungsprüfung
Skala 1-6 0,1
Wiederholtes Belegen beliebig wiederholbar
Zuständige Fakultät Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät / WWZ, studiendekanat-wwz@unibas.ch
Anbietende Organisationseinheit Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät / WWZ