Stellenbosch University (South Africa) once again offered its popular online short course in science communication. In 2018, the course was presented over a period of six weeks from 6 August to 17 September 2018, followed by a practical assignment.

Course overview

The course explored the histories and futures of science communication as a field of practice and research, including the challenging of creating effective and meaningful linkages between practitioners and scholars. The content and interactive discussions are designed to encourage critical reflection on best practice in terms of ethical and responsible science communication. In addition to learning from global trends and leading scholars in the field of science communication, the course content emphasised science engagement challenges in the developing world. The course content is divided into the following six themes:

  1. An introduction to science communication theory
  2. Science communication role players and platforms
  3. Science and (new) media
  4. Communicating about health, the environment and risk
  5. Science, pseudoscience and quackery
  6. Practical skills and creative approaches in sharing science

The course was presented through the web-based learning management system of Stellenbosch University.


This course was presented by the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST), the home of a DSI-NRF Research Chair in Science Communication, in partnership with the Centre for Science and Technology Mass Communication (CENSCOM) at the Department of Journalism. Both centres are at Stellenbosch University.

Dr Marina Joubert is the lead designer and presenter. She was joined by a number of colleagues and partners who took the lead in specific modules, namely Dr Bankole Falade, Professor George Claassen and Dr Lars Guenther. The voices and views of global leaders in the field of science communication were included via video lectures and online conversations.

Course feedback

In their evaluation of this 2018 course, participants said the following:

“I am so glad that I got this opportunity to do this course. I cannot speak highly enough about it. I welcome all that I have learnt during this course and can’t wait for the next one to take place in 2019, so that I can refer my colleagues to it.”
Michelle Binedell, knowledge manager, South African Sugarcane Research Institute

“The course has boosted my critical thinking skills as a science communicator. I now understand how easy it is for both communicators and the public to misinterpret research data. Also, a lot of quackery gets passed off as real science in the “fake news” age, but now I have the tools to better identify it!”
Thalia Brussow, copywriter & online engagement officer, National Research Foundation

“The Scicomm online course was excellent. Well planned and better than I hoped for. I can definitely recommend the course.”
Elbie Els, Central Analytical Facilities, Stellenbosch University

“The course is simply good value for money, from the contents to materials to interaction and the availability of the facilitators for response and guidance!”
Tlou Masehela, South African National Biodiversity Institute