• Offered by Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Science Communication
  • Areas of interest Science Communication
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Roderick Lamberts
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

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.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. Undertake expert desktop research into the theory and practice of risk communication
  5. 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
  6. 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.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Reflective pieces about science, risk and ethics (1 x hurdle, 1 x 10%) (10) [LO 1,5,6]
  2. Review Project - Progress report (20) [LO 1,2,4]
  3. Opinion piece exercise (35) [LO 2,5,6]
  4. 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.

Workload

2 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.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

Incompatible with SCOM8021 Ethics, Issues and Consequences of Science and SCOM2031.

Prescribed Texts

All reading and audio visual materials for the course will be made available via the course WATTLE site

Fees

Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution 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.

Units EFTSL
6.00 0.12500
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3936 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 31 Mar 2020 29 May 2020 In Person N/A
3937 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 31 Mar 2020 29 May 2020 Online N/A

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