30 July 2018

Starting on 6 August 2018, 70 students will take part in a virtual science communication journey over six weeks, guided by Dr Marina Joubert, Dr Lars Guenther and Professor George Claassen. At the end of the journey, they will produce a practical project under the guidance of Lise Mertens.

In addition to these academic guides, the course content features conversations with science communication experts from around the world. “When we heard that two citizen science experts were visiting Stellenbosch, we arranged to video-record a conversation with them in the studio of Telematic Services on our campus,” Dr Joubert explains. “Similarly, we have recorded interviews with other experts – in Stellenbosch and at conferences abroad – so that course participants are exposed to views and voices of global leaders in science communication.”

“It is the fourth time that we are offering this online course, and the second time that we present it in partnership with the Department of Journalism,” Dr Joubert explains. “It is a very interactive and participative course, where we all learn from one another,” she explains. “In this way, the course itself becomes a rewarding science engagement exercise.”

Course participants come from around South Africa, with a handful of students from other African countries (Kenya and Nigeria), and one student from Ireland. Most of them work as communication or education officers at organisations such as science centres or NGOs, but several are also practicing researchers or research managers. Their backgrounds include a wide range of fields, ranging from natural sciences and engineering to education, media studies and marketing.

We already have a waiting list of people interested to join the next course in 2019. People who are interested should email Rolene Langford at rlm@sun.ac.za.

Talking citizen science! Dr Marina Joubert (left) discusses citizen science with Dr Terry Gates, palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist from North Carolina State University in the USA; Nate Bourn, coordinator at the Transatlantic Science Education Cooperative and Dr Ryan Tucker, lecturer in sedimentology and palaeontology at the Department of Earth Sciences, Stellenbosch University.