- 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 Chemistry
- Work Integrated Learning Projects
This course is offered in two modes: online and in person. Please select the correct class number for the relevant mode of delivery when enrolling.
Uncertainty is everywhere. We casually and unknowingly take risks and accept uncertainty many times every day. However, in the sciences, we cannot afford to be so blasé. The ramifications of poor risk assessment (and communication) in science can and do have dramatic, 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 does it manifest in public domains? 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 climate change, environmental degradation and gene/ nano-technologies have regularly highlighted the need for society to challenge and address risks and ethics in the sciences. In this course, the practice and application of science is analyzed from risk communication and ethical perspectives. Consideration is given to how social, political and psychological contexts of scientific research influence contemporary debates about risk and ethics. The concept of ethical research is analyzed and critiqued and the communication of risk and uncertainty with lay publics is examined in detail. Throughout the course, significant attention is devoted to the consideration of clear and effective ways to characterize and communicate controversial, risky, and ethically charged science-based matters in the public sphere.
This course is co-taught with undergraduate students but assessed separately.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Analyse critically and reflect on risk/ethical issues pertaining to science in the public sphere, and contextualise these within individuals' own workplace and/or geographical contexts
- 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 - and make high level, evidenced-based recommendations for improvements.
- 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.
Work Integrated Learning
Students may engage with WIL partners (internal/external) as a component of the course
- Reflective pieces about science, risk and ethics (1 x hurdle, 1 x 10%) (10) [LO 1,5,6]
- Review Project - Progress report (20) [LO 1,2,4]
- Opinion piece exercise (35) [LO 2,5,6]
- Review Project - Review report (35) [LO 1,2,3,4]
The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.
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
All reading and audio visual materials for the course will be made available via the course WATTLE site
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.
- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.
Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.
Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links
ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.
|Class start date
|Last day to enrol
|Class end date
|Mode Of Delivery
|17 Feb 2025
|24 Feb 2025
|31 Mar 2025
|23 May 2025
|17 Feb 2025
|24 Feb 2025
|31 Mar 2025
|23 May 2025