New Science Communication major in 2020

In a world of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ and with an increase in anti-science rhetoric, a critical understanding of science and science communication is more valuable than ever. In 2020, Victoria University of Wellington will become the first university in New Zealand to offer a major in Science Communication.

Science Communication, which can be studied as part of a Bachelor of Science or the new Bachelor of Communication, has a unique structure that allows students to develop skills in communication whilst also learning about an area of science that they’re passionate about.

Associate Professor Rebecca Priestley, who received the Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize in 2016, will be teaching this new major alongside other staff at the University’s Centre for Science in Society, and communication specialists throughout the University.

“Our science communication courses are taught by award-winning teachers who are closely connected with the science and science communication communities throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and the world,” says Associate Professor Priestley.

Teaching staff include Dr Pauline Harris, whose expertise includes engaging audiences with mātauranga Māori, and Dr Rhian Salmon, who focuses on effective ways to engage audiences in discussions about controversial issues in science. “My passion lies in enabling genuine public engagement and dialogue about topical or controversial issues in science, such as climate change, use of new genetic technologies, Predator Free New Zealand, and data privacy in this increasingly connected world,” says Dr Salmon.

Associate Professor Priestley’s focus is science writing. “Being a science writer has given me the opportunity to visit some incredible places. A definite highlight for me was visiting Antarctica for the first time in 2011, on an Antarctica New Zealand media programme.”

A major in Science Communication will open a range of career opportunities. Graduates might go on to work as science journalists, in science policy, or in communications for a scientific research organisation.

The Centre for Science in Society also offers a Master of Science in Society and a science communication specialisation in the new Master of Communication.

Students can enrol in this major for a Trimester one start in 2020. Find out more about the Science Communication major and apply to study here.