Communicating Conservation Biology I - BIOC 2010H
Scientists unearth discoveries in the language of stats, probabilities and analysis. But what about the rest of us? A new Communicating Conservation Biology course, offered for the first time this fall, teaches students how to transform hard numbers into powerful stories that compel their audiences to listen, understand, and ultimately take action.
“Conservation biology is a goal-directed discipline; it’s only as effective as it is communicated,” says Dr. Jim Schaefer, professor of Biology. “As noted by Thomas Symons, Trent’s founding president, ‘Research isn't consummated until the results are taught.’ Conservation biologists, therefore, are not content with merely documenting the decline of nature; they are focused on conveying their knowledge to broader audiences.”
With an emphasis on writing, the course teaches students how to review, synthesize and effectively communicate peer-reviewed science literature as a meaningful story to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
“The career success of students also depends on their ability to communicate,” explains Professor Schaefer. “Employers consistently identify communication skills as a top feature in an applicant. In this course, students learn to communicate with other specialists in conservation biology, as well as with policy-makers, practitioners, and the public.”
The course is a required component of the new degree in Conservation Biology. Three more advanced courses expand on storytelling principles, incorporate media technology and address wider audiences and issues through various platforms.
“Without communication, science would not exist,” affirms Prof. Schaefer. “Trent offers several courses in communicating science, in several departments and programs, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Writing and presenting are not just tasks that scientists do. Writers and presenters are what scientists are. For any scientist, communication skills are an essential part of the toolbox.”