Public engagement with science creates connections and builds trust between science and society. It helps to make science visible and accessible to general audiences, gives citizens a say in science and enriches research with public perspectives. It makes research relevant to society and demonstrates that research responds to societal needs. Around the world, and also in South Africa, ‘engaged research’ has become a hot topic. Science policymakers and funders increasingly look for evidence of public engagement in research projects, and public engagement skills are in high demand.
The MPhil programme focusing on public engagement with science at CREST is the only degree programme of its kind in Africa. Our course content aligns with global trends and best practices, but is rooted in Africa. Under the umbrella of public engagement, we explore trends in interactions between science and society, and get to grips with cutting-edge methods, ecosystems and actors that matter for public engagement with science. The curriculum also includes topics such as research uptake and societal impact, sociology of science and science policy. Students develop the theoretical understanding and practical skills required for effective, science-based public engagement.
The modular structure of the course makes it ideal for part-time study and provides a pathway for professional development for working adults. Students must be on campus in Stellenbosch for four to six weeks and can spread their in-person class attendance over two years. Students complete eight coursework modules, followed by a research assignment.