The annual online science communication course at Stellenbosch University in South Africa provided an opportunity for science communication professionals (or those aiming to move into this field) to develop and build their careers. The course provided an introduction to science communication theory and practice, as well as an overview of current trends and challenges related to public science engagement.

Now in its fifth year, 247 participants from around the world (mostly from South Africa and other African countries) have successfully completed the 2019 course. Read feedback from the class of 2018.

The course was co-presented by Dr Marina Joubert and Dr Lars Guenther.

Who is the course for?

All students and scientists who are interested in communicating science to the general public and who want to know more about the theory, research and best practice of the field should benefit from this course. This course is specifically designed for people who are already working in the field of science communication, or want to move into these careers (i.e. as communication professionals at universities, science councils, museums, science centres, NGOs, etc).

Course overview and dates

  • 23 April 2019
    Deadline for applications
  • 3 May 2019
    Course platform opens
  • 6 – 12 May 2019
    Week 1 – Introduction to science communication
  • 13 – 19 May 2019
    Week 2 – Science communication role players
  • 20 – 16 May 2019
    Week 3 – Science and the media
  • 27 May – 2 June 2019
    Week 4 – Creative approaches to sharing science
  • 3 – 9 June 2019
    Week 5 – Science communication as a field of research
  • 10 – 16 June 2019
    Week 6 – Practical skills for science communicators
  • 17 June to 16 July 2019
    Joint practical science communication research project

Each week of this online course is roughly equivalent to 2 – 3 hours of teaching time with an addition of at least another 2 – 3 hours for reading through materials and watching short videos or video talks. All course materials are in English.

Course feedback

This 2019 course was rated as highly relevant and interesting by 90% of its participants, while 95% said that the presenters were helpful and provided valuable input and advice. In their evaluation, participants also said the following:

  • The course is exciting, relevant and highly informative.
  • Overall, the course was a truly engaging and enlightening experience that I would highly recommend.
  • More than ever, I now appreciate my role as a communicator and its value in society! Thank you.
  • It has exposed me to an area of research that was new to me. I will highly recommend this course to my friends and other young scientists.
  • Thank you for a wonderful and refreshing course, covering valuable and relevant topics in the field of science communication.
  • I loved the way the course was set up, with a nice balance of notes, videos and scientific articles, and the interaction with other participants.
  • The course has provided a fresh outlook for my future endeavours, perhaps even swaying me into the field of science communication.
  • I am so grateful that such a well-structured course exists that can transfer knowledge on the important subject of science communication. I was often inspired while reading through the course materials.
  • I will be referring to the notes and papers for many future endeavours.
  • I am also so grateful for the course coordinators for being so present and helpful.
  • The amount of information shared, especially with regard to available resources and extra information, was far more than I ever expected and has really opened my eyes to what is out there. It is actually a testament to the amount of knowledge and experience and level of commitment of the lecturers and it inspires a lot of confidence.
  • I have gained valuable knowledge about science communication that I am able to use in my current career.
  • The greatest value I derived from this course was a paradigm shift. Many of my inherent reservations about science communication have been addressed. I have been inspired consciously to practice the lessons learned and to do further research on some of the scicomm academic work out of interest.
  • The course was an eye opener for me into the world of science communication.