School of Journalism & Electronic Media

COLLEGE OF COMMUNICATION & INFORMATION -- Enduring Standards, Evolving Media

Science Communication

SCIENCE COMMUNICATION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE

The Science Communication Program was established in 1987. The University of Tennessee offers an environment of notable science and engineering departments, a strong medical community, and a partnership with nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

ABOUT THE SCIENCE COMMUNICATION COURSES

There are six courses in science communication. At least four are taught each year.

Four of the science communication courses can be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit. Two are limited to graduate students.

Our science communication courses are open to students in any field. Graduate and undergraduate students in the sciences, engineering, health, social sciences, and humanities often take these courses. The only prerequisite is permission of the instructor.

Graduate students in the College of Communication & Information can specialize in science communication. Research assistantships are available to well-qualified students who seek master of science or doctor of philosophy degrees in communications.

Undergraduate students in the School of Journalism & Electronic Media can concentrate in science writing by choosing the Science Journalism track.

JREM 450 and 451 are advanced writing skills courses.
JREM 450, 451, and 456 satisfy the University’s General Education Requirement for writing-intensive courses for undergraduates.
JREM 456 and 556, Public Relations 516, and Communication/Information 651 are seminars.

COURSES IN SCIENCE COMMUNICATION

Writing about Science and Medicine

Catalog number: JREM 450
Principal instructor: Mark Littmann, Ph.D.
Description: A writing workshop in which students analyze successful science writing and write a series of articles for the general public based on scientific journals, news conferences, technical meetings, and interviews.
Prerequisites: Permission of instructor
Credit hours: 3
Level of students enrolled: Upperclassmen and graduate students
Offered: At least once a year

Environmental Writing

Catalog number: JREM 451
Principal instructor: Mark Littmann, Ph.D.
Description: Writing for the news media on environmental issues such as urban sprawl, air pollution, fossil fuels and nuclear power, and alien and endangered species. Students hear presentations from and interview experts in environmental science and reporting. Exemplary environmental writing is reviewed.
Prerequisites: Permission of instructor
Credit hours: 3
Level of students enrolled: Upperclassmen and graduate students
Offered: At least once a year

Science Writing as Literature

Catalog number: JREM 456
Principal instructor: Mark Littmann, Ph.D.
Description: A survey of important science writing for the general public across the spectrum of science, engineering, and medicine. Works by authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, David Quammen, and Richard Selzer are analyzed for literary qualities in a quest to understand why some science writing succeeds.
Prerequisites: Permission of instructor
Credit hours: 3
Level of students enrolled: Upperclassmen and graduate students
Offered: Once a year

Seminar in Mass Media Health Communication

Catalog number: JREM 556
Description: Methods, problems, theories, and issues of communication in the health field. Media’s reporting of health issues. Setting of media’s health agenda; strategic uses of media in social marketing efforts; public communication of complex social/medical issues. Discussion of relevant communication theories.
Prerequisites: Permission of instructor
Credit hours: 3
Level of students enrolled: Graduate students and upperclassmen
Offered: At least once every two years

Seminar in Issues Management and Crisis Communication

Catalog number: Public Relations 516
Principal instructor: Michael J. Palenchar, Ph.D.
Description: Advanced issues management and crisis communication theories, models, principles, and concepts are examined, with additional focus on the role, process, strategies, applications, and tactics of these strategic elements of public relations from theoretical and applied perspectives.
Prerequisites: Permission of instructor
Credit hours: 3
Level of students enrolled: Graduate students
Offered: Once a year

Contemporary Issues in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medical Communication and Information

Catalog number: Communication/Information 651
Principal instructor: Suzie Allard, Ph.D.
Description: Integrative approach to the role of communication and information in the study of science, technology, engineering, and medical topics.
Prerequisites: Permission of instructor
Credit hours: 3
Level of students enrolled: Graduate students
Offered: At least once every two years

FACULTY

Three professors in the College of Communication & Information teach courses in science writing and science communication:
• Suzie Allard (Information Sciences)
• Mark Littmann (Journalism & Electronic Media)
• Michael J. Palenchar (Advertising & Public Relations)
Many others have conducted research in areas of science communication.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

For more information about the science communication courses, please contact the principal instructor for the course you are interested in - or contact

Mark Littmann, Ph.D.
Hill Professor of Science Writing
School of Journalism & Electronic Media
333 Communications Building
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-0333
(865) 974-8156
E-mail: littmann@utk.edu