Wow, I can’t believe time has passed so quickly. Next to me is a pile of exam papers completed by the students of the graduate course in Public Health Science Communication at the University of Copenhagen. I feel like I just had the first introduction module, but yet I am almost done reading all these papers.

Until the students have received their results I will of course not comment on the actual exam, but what I would like to do is to share the assignment which the students were given with you. The exam was done through a course paper, where the students were presented with the task already on the first day of the course. They have therefore had the opportunity to let it simmer in the back of their minds throughout the course.

Course paper in Public Health Science Communication

Assignment: Write a short introductory chapter on science communication for an imagined new textbook on Public Health Sciences. The imagined textbook is directed both to public health students and medical students. The chapter should provide a broad overview of principles of science communication and explain the relevance of looking specifically at public health science communication.

Requirement: Reference needs to be made to at least 60% of texts in the syllabus. Other literature (book chapters, blogs, articles etc.) may also be included, with clear references.

Language: The course paper can be completed either in Danish or in English.

Maximum length: 1 student: 10 normal pages, 2 students: 16 normal pages, 3 students: 20 normal pages

Evaluation: The paper will be evaluated on a 7-points scale

Additional guidance

In addition, the students were given the following guidance:

  • The course paper should illustrate that you have obtained a broad understanding of the principles of public health science communication (not public health communication) and its many dimensions. This means that you know of different medias, different target groups and different objectives/motivations for communicating science.
  • Since a requirement for the exam is that you have to refer to at least 60% of texts in the syllabus, your job is to put the texts into play with each other and demonstrate how their content are relevant for public health science communication – please also feel free to include other references (articles, blog posts, illustrations, radio programmes) if you find that relevant and as long as the references are clearly indicated in the reference list.
  • Apart from living up to the reference requirements and from demonstrating that you have understood basic principles of science communication, the evaluation of your papers will include how you combine your knowledge of public health sciences with your knowledge about science communication.
  • As the assignment is to write and introductory chapter to science communication, you will of course not be able to go into very specific details, but how you weigh different themes, topics etc. is entirely up to you.
  • As for the form of the paper, there are no requirements, rights or wrongs. You may want to write an introductory chapter as you would like to read it yourself (the target group for the paper is yourself and other students of public health related sciences) or try out a new style.  You can choose to write academically, personally, journalistic, with a dash of humor. It is up to you. Please also feel free to include figure, boxes, pictures and other illustrations if you find it relevant for your text.
  • There is no ideal way to complete this assignment and no rights or wrongs when it comes to format, disposition, language or structure for the paper.
  • You are also free to choose what reference system you like, as long as they are clearly marked and complete.
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  • http://twitter.com/dnnyboy Daniel Noesgaard

    What exactly is the difference between public health communication and public health science communication?

    • http://twitter.com/Bjerglund Nina Bjerglund

      Well, there are no clear cut definitions of either and therefore neither a clear cut explanation of the difference.

      However, public health communication goes a little broader and covers for example communication for behavioral change. This could e.g. be how we best communicate the health risks of smoking with the aim of making people stop smoking. This does of course include communicating science, but is just as much a question of how we as humans react to messages, how we develop effective health campaigns, make good slogans and create supportive systems to the communicated messages. To me that is a bit broader than public health science communication and is actually a whole science in it self…..

      • http://twitter.com/dnnyboy Daniel Noesgaard

        I see. I guess my question could have read: what’s the difference between public health and public health science?

        What do we call the science of communicating public health then – if not public health science comms? ;)

        • http://twitter.com/Bjerglund Nina Bjerglund

          Hmm – again a good questions, where there is no easy answer.
          The science of communicating something is in my opinion just as much a question of retoriks, about which words that tricker specific reactions, about when people are most receptive to the communicated (whether that is a public health message, an advertisement for a beer, or a political message) etc. The focus is centered on the science of communicating something. One could argue that Public health science communication takes it starting point in the sciences of public health and how it is communicated rather than in the communication sciences – but of course there will be strong overlaps!

          But good question – it provokes a lot of thinking for me :)

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