While scientific progress has brought extraordinary medical and technological advances, today’s hottest political debates surround scientific issues that are overwhelmingly misconstrued, misunderstood, and misreported. In the face of increasingly sensationalized and politicized scientific issues, what is the role of journalism in delivering scientific news and information to citizens? What other social actors dive into these debates and why?

Ultimately, this is a journalism course and students will be introduced to the skills needed to cover medical and science news. The course will focus on how to report and write daily news stories, blog entries and longer features. But science journalism is not just about mechanics. In light of the current debates raging around issues like autism, genetic engineering, and climate science, this course will also explore the ethical, social, and political issues raised by the press coverage of science and medicine.

Science journalism is about cultivating a more informed citizenry by focusing on facts not arguments; it’s about revealing the agendas, funding, conflicts of interest, and social systems surrounding a scientific issue; and it’s about reporting responsibly on those issues for our readers. Whether headed for a career in scientific research, non-profits, public relations, or journalism, this course will help students become better consumers of scientific information and better producers of science journalism in the public interest.

Read the full syllabus here.