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A selection of our Senior and Visiting Lecturers for Science Communication
• P.J. Blumenthal, Science Writer and Author, New York / Munich (Communication Clinics)
• Hristio Boytchev, Science Journalist, Berlin / DE (Freelance Journalism)
• Franca Davenport, London / UK (Freelance Journalism)
• Paul Hix, Communicating Nano / Deutsches Museum, Munich / DE (Communicating for Institutions)
• Tony Jaques, PhD, Director of Issue Outcomes, Melbourne / AU (Risk & Crisis Communication)
• Ulrike Langer, Journalist, Seattle / USA (Entrepreneurial Journalism)
• Jennifer Metcalfe, University of Nottingham / UK (Risk & Crisis Communication)
• Ulrike Reimann, Head of Strategy & Communications, European Universities Association, Brussels / BE (Communicating for Institutions)
• Dr. Michelle Riedlinger, Assistant Professor, Fraser University / CA (Risk & Crisis Communication)
• Sara Schwedmann, Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft, Köln / DE (Public Affairs)
• Will Sillitoe (Communication Clinics)
• Kerstin Timm-Peeterß, Düsseldorf / DE (Freelance Journalism)
From the 4th semester onwards, the choice of electives combined with the direction of the final thesis determine whether students receive a B.A. or a B.Sc. degree.
Contact to head of study course
Prof. Alexander Gerber
Tel.: +49 (0) 2821 80673-641
Prof. Dr. Neil Shirtcliffe
Tel.: +49 (0) 2821 80673-633
Contact to student service center
Contact to international Office
Science Communication and Bionics, B. A./B.Sc.
Main points at a glance
Place of study: Kleve
Start of the study: every winter semester
Duration of study: 7 semester
Degree: Bachelor of Arts, B.A. or Bachelor of Science, B.Sc.
Study language: English
Semester abroad or internship in industry: during the 6th semester
Bachelor thesis: in the second half of the 7th semester
Science Communication and Bionics at the Rhine Waal University
Science Communication is a form of mediation between science on the one side and its various stakeholders in politics, the economy, and the general public on the other. It is essential, therefore, to foster an independent journalism which not only ‘translates’ science for lay audiences but also questions critically the foundations of science and the policies involved in a way that the public can understand. Also companies and universities are facing the challenge to reconfigure their public relations departments to take public engagement as serious as the stakeholders expect it to be, instead of merely legitimising the results of their research and developing efforts.
Currently the fields of journalism and PR are undergoing fundamental, historic changes. You, as a graduate of our course, therefore have the opportunity to play a part in no less than redefining and redesigning your own profession. To help you deal with the structural changes in the media landscape, many innovative approaches and formats will be covered during your studies, such as smart phone apps, social media, and game-based communication, in addition to the usual skills.
As science communication increasingly operates outside traditional borders, we are preparing you specifically for the global job market, as in transnational research-intensive enterprises or publishing houses, and particularly such institutions which simply do not exist on a national level, e.g. the various institutions of the European Commission. For this reason “Science Communication & Bionics” is taught in English inside Germany and compares the internationally very different systems of media, culture, science and policy-making. This transnational approach, which is woven into every aspect of the course, is one of its unique strengths.
In addition to learning the tools of trade of science and technology journalism, public relations and marketing, you are also going to study the political side of science, including risk communication, public affairs and lobbying.
All students are offered special language training, be it in English, German or other languages in addition to their normal courses on writing and ethics.
Our science communicators also logically learn a collection of scientific themes, usually using biomimetic (bionic) examples. Biomimetics is the idea of transferring concepts from natural systems to artificial ones and spans the sciences and engineering. Students learn enough of the basics to be able to understand what scientists and engineers do. Some students may want to specialise in these areas and carry on in science and engineering with the advantage of also being able to communicate professionally and responsibly. Choice is also available between scientific or communication elective courses and in from which direction project work is approached.
Based on a theoretical background from media studies, sociology and political communication on the one hand and natural sciences on the other, our students acquire in-depth knowledge and practical skills particularly in communication management, including governance, risk and crisis management, event management and exhibitions, CSR and Corporate Foresight. They acquire practical skills in science / technology writing and journalistic skills in other media, such as tv, radio, with a special focus on interactive and social media. Students gain comparative insights about economies, media systems and political structures in different countries, including the legal frameworks of media and PR. They are trained in specialised programming an computing skills, such as data-journalism, java-script, audio- and video-editing. Furthermore students will train entrepreneurial skills to also succeed on a free-lance basis. They are enabled to take responsibility for public affairs and science advocacy activities in academic institutions, companies or NGOs. Early in their studies the students learn about the history of science and technology, and about how to plan and manage public engagement campaigns and citizen science projects. They gain skills to communicate statistical data responsibly and to apply research methodologies for science communication, including methods for project evaluation. Our students will furthermore develop a sensibility to take the particular responsibilities into account when communicating the ethical, legal and social implications of science and technology in society.
In the natural sciences they acquire a basic understanding of physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics and behavioural sciences, with additional in-depth knowledge in bionics, such as zoology, special materials and surfaces, etc. The practise-oriented course should enable our future graduates to take responsibility for a wide variety of science communication tasks, without further training. S/he thereby is able to solve strategic communication challenges independently and discuss the decisions / results with other experts in the field. They shall be able to organise work packages as well as projects while being aware of operational and organisational influences on the success of their work. Thanks to a modern learning environment the students are versed in using modern tools for communication. They know about the interdisciplinary structures of companies and academic institutions and uses them advantageously. The theoretical and applied knowledge acquired during the courses is continuously supported by numerous projects and exercises.
Through the acquisition of key qualifications our future graduates are well-prepared to work in teams and projects, and to communicate internationally, especially in intercultural environments.
Structure of the study
The course takes seven half-year semesters; the first two of which being the basics of science and communication. In one of the winter semesters (usually the fifth semester in your studies) the students go out to a company or another university to gain experience and extend their horizons. After this the students deepen their understanding of the subject, finishing with a bachelor project in their seventh semester. This is as close to real practice as possible and often takes place inside a company.
Competences and Career Paths
Our Science Communication & Bionics students will be able to enter many careers in the following areas:
• Public relations departments in universities, extramural research institutes, government organisations or companies
• Communications offices in NGOs, unions and lobby groups
• Research Communications in companies and for large research projects
• Editors and freelance journalists in specialised magazines, newspapers, for television, radio and, in increasing importance online
• Consultants and communicators in PR and marketing agencies, particularly when the customer has a scientific or technical focus
• Press offices of charities and foundations sponsoring scientific works, cluster organisations, research councils and similar institutions
• Editors for scientific publishers
Conditions for entrance
For information please contact the international office!