Scientific, Medical and Environmental Communication

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Course Category: Master and Master of Arts

Course Description
Course Description
  • Focus of Study

    The Master in Scientific, Medical and Environmental Communication will prepare you to produce, manage, and transmit scientific knowledge and the ideas and opportunities that derive from its application, and from its related technologies.

    Throughout the course, you will analyse the main sources of scientific information, their forms of transmission, the nature of the relationships between the expert world, technological industries, and society, how these impact discoveries in people and the ethical problems associated with the whole process of how knowledge is handled. The module focused on medical communications will provide you with a detailed understanding on how medical and health knowledge is communicated. In the field of environmental communications you will analyse the major environmental issues and the challenges of biotechnology and genetic engineering. In addition, thanks to the collaboration of “la Caixa” Social Foundation, you will be able to participate in the Campus Gutenberg, which involves more than 300 scientific communicators and experts in scientific culture from Spain and Europe each year.

    Course Description

    Program Curriculum


    The context of scientific communication
    Scientific information, communication and dissemination. Discourse in scientific dissemination. The voice of the researcher and contextualisation. Levels of dissemination of scientific knowledge. From leading journals to mass media. The myths and realities of discoveries. The science and technology system in Spain , Europe and internationally. The current status of scientific research. Prospective analysis of scientific knowledge. Public perception of science, medicine and the environment. Science journalism today. The tools of the science journalist. The crisis of the traditional model and the advent of digital and amateur journalism. Case studies: stem cell research, flu epidemics, life on Mars, mad cow disease, Dolly the sheep, catastrophic asteroid impact, a cure for cancer, transgenic corn, xenotransplantation, the infidelity gene, etc.

    Practical workshops: familiarisation with sources of information (scientific journals, researchers, press agencies, television, internet, etc.), writing practicals, analysis of scientific, medical and environmental discourse.

    Scientific communication professionals
    Science as a communications business. Public communication of science in Europe and across the world. Communication in institutions and organisations. The industry and society. Communication theory and strategy in crisis situations. Online scientific communication. Scientific dissemination techniques: from essays to novels.

    Practical workshop: analysing and recovering information using the Internet, scientific database search strategies.

    Science dissemination centres
    Scientific dissemination in museums. Designing museums and science exhibitions. From display cabinets to hands-on. Affective content. The Museum of Science and Technology (Terrassa), Domus and Casa de las Ciences (A Coruña). CosmoCaixa ( Barcelona ). Scientific dissemination in the Fabra Observatory. Local science and technology museums. Museum projects: design and development.

    Scientific information and dissemination in newspapers, radio and television
    Science as a journalistic specialisation. Scientific press in Europe and across the world. Audiovisual scientific dissemination. Science documentaries. Science infographics, photography and illustration. Case studies: El País, El Mundo, ABC, Avui, Redes (TVE2), BBC Radio, COMRàdio, Espacio Protegido (Canal Sur, Andalusia), Muy Interesante, National Geographic, etc.

    Practical workshops: a) writing; b) radio; c) infographics and d) designing an audiovisual documentary.

    The relationship between scientists and communicators
    Communication in large research centres (NASA, CERN, CSIC, etc.). Institutional communication in universities. The evolution of leading scientific journals. The impact of press releases from leading journals. Communication pressure groups. Media agencies. Online visibility and reputation.

    Practical workshop: drawing up an institutional communication plan.

    The future of scientific communication
    The present and future of scientific publications. Electronic publication of research work. Information distribution services: “à la carte information”. Scientific communication and public expectations. Prospective analysis of research and communication in Biology, Physics, Chemistry, the Environment and Medicine. Innovation in scientific communication. Scientific communication 2.0. Science and public participation. Political initiatives in scientific communication. Creating projects. Scientific dissemination blogs.

    Practical workshop: new formats of communication and dissemination.

    Communicating emerging technologies.
    Synthetic biology. Nanotechnologies. Convergent technologies: the convergence of nano/bio/ICT and cognitive sciences. Research on human enhancement .


    Medicine and society
    Public perception of health and illness. 21 st century medicine. Health – a basic right? Doctors and society. Socioeconomic aspects of healthcare. Ethical repercussions of biomedical research. The informed patient: the new sources of information. The doctor-patient relationship in the context of globalisation and the immediacy of information.

    Medicine and health in the media
    Medical information in the daily press. The cases of the newspapers ABC, El País, El Periódico de Catalunyaand La Vanguardia . Medical information in specialist supplements. The case of El Mundo . Medical information on television. Online medical information and the online sale of medications. Doctors and scientists in the media. The ethics of medical communication.

    From research to practice
    Informed consent and good practice. The Human Genome Project and its consequences from the perspective of bioethics. Stem cells, regenerative medicine and cloning. Public health research. Police investigations and scientific and medical information. Communication strategies. Hospitals and research institutions. Case studies: stem cells, gene therapy, cancer and AIDS research.

    Scientific journals
    Scientific journals. The peer review system. The case of Medicina Clínica . Searching for and recovering medical documents. The main databases. The case of the journal Nature . Communication strategies.

    Public health and communication
    Food crises: from dioxins to mad cows. The management, communication and perception of risk. Legionella and other public health crises. Smoking, epidemiology, industry and advertising. Cancer and society. AIDS and other emerging diseases. Health, gender and social class.

    Medications: development, policies and communication
    Development of medications. The therapeutic effects of placebos. Generic medicines. Alternative medicine. Lifestyle medicine. Communication strategies. The pharmaceutical industry. Case studies: Viagra, Biobac, etc.

    Communication techniques and analysis
    Medicine and society from the perspective of discourse analysis. Persuasion, advertising and health. Techniques for writing texts with medical content. Drawing up a communication plan in the healthcare environment. Oral communication techniques in the context of medicine and healthcare. Case studies.


    Historical development of the concept of environment
    Naturalistic philosophy. The Darwinian revolution. Earth sciences. Ecology movements. Concepts in ecology and environmentalism. The globalisation of environmental problems. Climate change. The energy crisis: nuclear energy, biofuels and alternative energy. The concept of sustainable development. The evolution of environmental communication.

    Environmental communication: a multidisciplinary approach
    Economy and the environment. Society and the environment. Science and the environment. Health and the environment.

    Sources of information for environmental communication
    Scientific sources. Environmental organisations. Institutional sources. Private sources. Environmental journalists’ work routines. The Internet as a source of information. Benchmark works.

    Environmental trends
    Reporting on water, energy, waste, pollutants, natural spaces, natural phenomena and human catastrophes. The global and local effects of environmental changes. Different environmental management models. Northern and southern perspectives on environmental problems. The legislative and regulatory framework for the environment. The powers of different governments. Environmental crimes. Case studies.

    The environment in the media
    The environment in the print media: daily press, magazines and journals. The environment on television: news programmes, environmental documentaries and other specialist programmes. The environment on the radio. Environmental barometers. The environment as a selling point in advertising.

    Public perception of environmental problems
    Public opinion polls: perception studies, the Eurobarometer, etc. Social participation and interaction. The role of the public in environmental management: communication as an integral feature of environmental projects.

    The case of biotechnology
    The origins of biotechnology. Biotechnology applications: industry, medicine, agriculture, etc. Biotechnology as a new economic sector. The bioethical debate on biotechnology. Public participation. The Human Genome Project. The keys to the communication strategies of the different players involved in the Genome Project. Case studies.