The Rutgers Science Communication Initiative, founded in 2018, addresses the pressing need to communicate science effectively to various audiences through teaching, research, training, and outreach. The Initiative enables participants to “learn to access and interpret science in the context of complex, real-world problems, judge the credibility of scientific claims based on both social and epistemic cues, and cultivate a lifelong involvement in science” (Feinstein, Allen & Jenkins, 2013).
Purpose: Why Science Communication Matters
The Initiative recognizes that science communication is everyone’s role—understanding scientific processes and communicating this knowledge effectively can change how humanity interacts with the world. This nuanced field of study
- Aims to change how students think about science, scientists, evidence, and our place in the world.
- Improves the science communication skills of students, faculty, and staff by collaborating with University stakeholders in science, art, and the humanities.
- Expands scientific research and processes to Rutgers’s humanitarian, artistic, and business sectors.
- Establishes Rutgers as a knowledge hub for public, private, and government audiences.
The Science Communication Initiative had its first meetings in the Spring of 2019, where 50 colleagues from all five campuses attended and identified the purpose of the Initiative. The Initiative has formed strong collaborations between SEBS, SC&I, SAS, RBHS, and Mason Gross to expand science outside of STEM to the broader science-arts-humanities sector known as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics).
At its core, the Initiative is interdisciplinary and collaborative: for the purpose of including philosophical phenomena from business, humanitarian, and artistic fields at Rutgers University. Due to the broad term of “science communication”, the Initiative maintains an intellectually diverse group of colleagues. Including but not limited to risk and health communication, learning cognition, rhetorical and prose research, program development etc.
Today, the Initiative will continue to expand its network and collaborate with all units of Rutgers University. This nuanced Initiative continues to offer interdisciplinary professional experience to faculty, staff, and students interested in pedagogy, research, or outreach related to science communication.