Science Journalism: Foundation for democracy?

Fall 2014 quarter

Taught by

poetry and literary arts, community studies/Middle East studies, journalism

The science journalists of today are making it possible for the public to engage with critical issues, such as health equity, food sustainability and environmental justice. Science writers are reaching a mass audience through bestselling nonfiction books that are fascinating and engaging their readers. Crucial personal and public decisions must be based on good scientific research, and effective science journalism is often the catalyst between scientists, the public and policy makers.

In this hands-on, writing-intensive program we will explore the importance of science journalism as a process that educates and democratizes policy debates. Assignments will include: 1) reporting on a science-related issue by attending a public policy meeting or hearing, and 2) tracking and critiquing science journalism in a variety of mainstream, alternative, and specialty media. This preliminary work will ground us in envisioning and creating new advocacy  models and recommendations for science journalism that emphasize sound reporting and effective dissemination. 

Students completing this program will understand connections between science, science journalism, and advocacy. They will have the skills to structure a science news article. They will also be able to critique the value of science journalism found in the lay media. They will understand the importance of science journalism to everyone’s health and wellbeing. This program will serve as a foundation for advanced study or work in science journalism, creative nonfiction, communication and public policy.

Required books may include:  A Field Guide for Science Writers: The Official Guide of the National Association of Science Writers , Blum, Knudsen and Henig, eds;  The Best American Science and Nature Writing of 2013 , Mukherjee and Folger, eds.;  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks , Rebecca Skloot;  News and Numbers: A Writer’s Guide to Statistics  by Victor Cohn and Lewis Cope; and  Verse and Universe: Poems about Science and Mathematics , Brown, ed.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Evening and Weekend

Advertised schedule: Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Registration Information

Credits: 8 (Fall)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Number

(8 credits): 10296

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