What is the future of communicating synthetic biology?
July 9–13, 2018
Concordia's Department of Journalism, in partnership with the World Federation of Science Journalists and the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada, is offering its second intensive and experiential summer school to challenge participants to rethink how science is communicated with society.
With an emphasis on robust, evidence-based science journalism, Projected Futures 2 will spark interdisciplinary experimentation to contemplate and create new forms of scientific storytelling. This year we focus on the future of next generation storytelling on living devices and synthetic biology.
Projected Futures 2 is a 2-week intensive, blended and experiential summer school that seeks to project plausible futures for the communication of science with society. International graduate students will come to Concordia to debate and experiment with the future of communicating synthetic biology. Student alumni from Projected Futures 1 and top science journalists will help lay the foundations of evidence-based science journalism1 for the school, before participants experiment to create new forms of scientific storytelling on synthetic biology. Students emerge knowledgeable and creatively primed to undertake digital first, open discipline, experimental science journalism.
It will tackle a new challenge of how to effectively and inclusively communicate synthetic biology – a rapidly emerging scientific field that seeks to redesign living systems, is increasingly seen as rife with media biohype, and involves serious debates2 over bio-terrorism, the ethics of “playing God”, and unknown risks to human health and the environment. Furthermore, the need for Projected Futures 2 is based in (a) the argued importance3 of communicating science to our society, (b) a perceived crisis in science journalism that is linked to concerns over non-evidence-based practice, job loss, and an emergent online ecology4, (c) students expressing a desire for a hybrid experience, where they gain skills in science journalism production to complement their training in another discipline, and (d) a significant innovation gap in Canada related to a lack of graduate-level experiential learning opportunities on evidence-based science journalism and science topics of social importance.
Projected Futures 2 will provide the following learning outcomes:
An intensive online introduction to science journalism with no previous knowledge required;
An interdisciplinary group-based mapping of synthetic biology and its social/ethical issues;
A community outreach experiment on “creating” a living (synthetic) device;
Production skills workshops for multimedia platforms;
A collaborative experimental challenge;
Improvement as a communicator;
A projected journalism future.
Students will also have the choice to focus on an experiential learning opportunity to, for example, pitch and submit an article on synthetic biology to our summer school collaborators at Motherboard (Vice).
Projected Futures 2 will enroll 20-22 graduate students. Students will send their application to Dr. David Secko at firstname.lastname@example.org and will be selected through the demonstration of their interest in the fundamentals of science journalism and new forms of scientific storytelling (Letter of Intent) and their current achievements (CV). Fellows will be considered top applicants to the school.