- Code SCOM6031
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
- ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
- Course subject Science Communication
- Areas of interest Science Communication
Uncertainty is everywhere. However, in the sciences, the ramifications of poor risk assessment in science can have dramatic and global consequences. Risk is very hard to calculate, and even harder to communicate. What is risky, to whom, and why? How is risk understood by experts? How is it translated into the public domain? When does a risk become acceptable? Is it possible to speak about "real" or "true" risks in science? How do the concepts of risk and ethics relate?
In recent years, issues such as global warming, environmental degradation and gene technologies have highlighted a critical need for society to question the risks and ethics of science and the way related matters are presented within societies. In this course, the practice and application of science is analysed from risk-communication and ethical perspectives. Consideration is given to how the history of scientific research might inform contemporary debates about risk. The concept of ethical research is analysed and challenged and the communication of risk and uncertainty among Western and non-Western publics is examined in detail. This course focuses on the creation of clearer and more effective ways to communicate more controversial, risky, and potential unethical scientific matters to larger audiences. It also considers the way in which prevailing social values influence the types of research that might be considered low risk and ethical.
Learning OutcomesOn satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Analyse critically and reflect on risk/ethical issues pertaining to science in the public sphere
- Research, synthesise and professionally communicate information about social, cultural and psychological influences that affect people’s perception of risks and ethical positions associated with science
- Critically analyze and comprehensively review risk communication strategies involving the communication of contemporary science-related risk issues
- Undertake expert desktop research into the theory and practice of risk communication
- Write persuasively for diverse non-specialist audiences about risk and ethics in science, integrating personal opinion, advanced knowledge of risk theory and responsible ethical judgement
- Using course reading and lecture materials as a catalyst, but integrating knowledge of published research, clearly present personal views, and critically respond to those of others, in open fora.
- Two page review proposal, outlining evidence-based reasons for your choice of risk communication strategy for review (10%; LO 1,2,4)
- Final expert review of risk communications strategy (30%; LO 1,2,3,4)
- Reflective pieces about science, risk and ethics (1 x hurdle, 1 x 10%; LO 1,5,6)
- Ethics opinion piece portfolio in the style of articles for ‘The Conversation’ (40%; LO 2,5,6)
- Weekly contributions to discussion forum (10%, LO 4,5,6)
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Workload2 x 2 hour classes per week comprising lecture and tute material, or equivalent online content study and discussion. Students are also expected to spend an average of 6 hours per week in private study to complete the set readings and assessment tasks.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Band 2
- Unit value:
- 6 units
If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees. Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.
Offerings and Dates
|Class number||Class start date||Last day to enrol||Census date||Class end date||Mode Of Delivery|
|4652||20 Feb 2017||27 Feb 2017||31 Mar 2017||26 May 2017||Online|