October 2022

By Lili Rademan

We’ve wrapped up our interactive science communication online course for 2022 where we shared memorable and creative conversations about science. This year, 55 students took part in this virtual journey over six weeks, guided by Dr Marina Joubert and Lili Rademan. We delved into topics like scicomm history, science and art, jargon-busting, and storytelling in science communication.

Local and international participants joined from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Uganda, Ghana, Vietnam, and Belgium. Their occupations range from practicing scientists, healthcare professionals, and communication officers. Their backgrounds include a wide range of fields, ranging from health sciences, agriculture, engineering, education, media studies and marketing.

We invited local science communication experts to be guest speakers at our weekly sessions. Sibusiso Biyela enlightened us on the decolonialisation of science and shared his innovative ways of crossing language barriers in South Africa. NatGeo Explorer Melissa Boonzaaier-Davids took us on her scicomm journey as a marine biologist. Lali van Zuydam answered burning questions from a science journalism perspective.

The participants shined with their final practical assignment where they designed a Lifeology-type flashcard course on their scicomm topic of choice. The idea was to challenge them to apply what they learned during the course: to identify their audience and objectives, to use storytelling techniques, keep the course jargon-free, and limit each card to only two to three sentences.

This is what some of the participants wrote after submitting their final assignments:

“I just submitted my final assignment and it’s a bittersweet feeling. I enjoyed this course a lot and learned so much. I also have to mention that the assignments were very well curated and helped me understand and apply the content much better. This last assignment was a massive challenge, but I loved doing it. Thank you for the quality content and wonderful course.” (Marlouw Engelbrecht)

“I just wanted to say a hearty thank you to Lili, Marina, all the guest speakers and the rest of the participants for such a wholesome and knowledge-rich course.” (Jamila Janna)

“Marina and Lili, thank you so much for this outstanding course and for sharing your in-depth knowledge and expertise with us. This course has really helped me in my work, and I am now trying to approach my work with more intentionality to put into practice the skills and theory I’ve gained from this course.” (Gina Arena)

This course was eye-opening and extremely helpful for me. I really enjoyed it and also had fun doing the assignment. After taking the course, I feel I have a much deeper understanding of what science communication is about. (Johannes Ndjamba)

We hope you enjoy reviewing the top four flashcard courses that the participants designed to engage broader audiences in a science-backed, bite-sized way. The participants did not have to include illustrations (like you will see in Marlouw’s course) but they needed to write specific briefs for a potential artist that could illustrate their course.

Please write to marinajoubert@sun.ac.za if you would like to be alerted about the next edition of this course in 2023.