The Stony Brook University School of Communication and Journalism this spring will launch a new Master of Science in Science Communication program, focused on helping trained scientists become professional communicators.
The program will meet a growing need for professional communicators who have deep knowledge and expertise in science and research fields. Graduates of the program will be prepared to work in media and public relations roles for scientific organizations, in policy and government, and in outreach and advocacy efforts to engage others and increase support for science and research.
“In our society and in the world more broadly, there has never been a time when public engagement with science has mattered more,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the School of Communication and Journalism, executive director of the Alda Center, and vice provost for academic strategy and planning. “Issues like climate change, the coronavirus vaccine efforts, reliable and renewable energy – all of these things require effective communication and accurate science. Graduates of this new program will combine scientific understanding and strategic communication to help individuals make decisions and take actions that are in their best interests and in the best interests of society as a whole.”
Science communication is a growing field that aims to share information with individuals so they can understand how science works and helps society, and empowers them to make informed and engaged decisions.
Stony Brook’s program is offered jointly between the School of Communication and Journalism and the Alda Center for Communicating Science, one of the nation’s leading science communication training organizations. Since its founding in 2009, the center has trained 15,000 researchers in effective communication through its unique approach that blends message-design strategies with techniques from improvisational theater.
“Stony Brook is one of the leading science research universities in the country, and is also home to the State University of New York’s only accredited School of Communication and Journalism,” said Fotis Sotiropolous, Stony Brook University interim provost. “Because the institution plays such an important role in both of these areas, adding this degree program combines our academic strengths and creates a vitally important career path for scientists and researchers.”
The degree program will offer scientists and researchers a distinctive career path that combines their subject-matter expertise with effective communication skills that are underpinned by theory, data and analysis.
“All too often, those who are responsible for scientific outreach and building public engagement are either scientists with an interest in communication or communicators with an interest in science,” said Elizabeth Bojsza, assistant professor of practice and graduate program director at the Alda Center and School of Communication and Journalism. “But because science is so integral to our daily lives, there is a growing demand for professionals who have expertise in both areas. Until now, there has been no academic program that deliberately and meaningfully combines these two areas. With this degree, we are creating a professional pathway and signaling to employers that expertise in both are, in fact, possible.”