Scientific Literacy: Ripped from the Headlines

Discipline: Biology
Instructor: Henriksen
Credits: 3
Day: C
Start: 1640
End: 1755
Field Work: Day 3 - Lisbon - Friday, 16 August | Portugal
Prerequisites: None. This course is appropriate for science and non-science majors. Download Syllabus

Scientific literacy is a critical skill in the 21st century, with enormous implications for public policy. Decisions about space exploration, healthcare funding, climate change, potential pandemics and so many other topics demand a public able to understand scientific concepts and methods. In this course, we will consider scientific literacy in the US and around the world. We will read, discuss and write about science that is currently in the popular media. Media coverage of a particular scientific topic will be viewed, read or listened to. This will be used as a jumping-off point for the subsequent discussion of the corresponding piece(s) of the scientific literature. Students will 1) learn to critique the media coverage, 2) come to understand how science is performed, presented and peer-reviewed in the literature and 3) explore how scientific literacy impacts public opinion and public policy. This course is appropriate for science and non-science majors.

Field Work

Country: Portugal
Day: 3 - Lisbon - Friday, 16 August

August 16 (Lisbon, Portugal) Ciência Viva, as the Portuguese National Agency for the Scientific and Technological Culture, is engaged in promoting Scientific Literacy among young people and the public-at-large. They pursue this, not only through their Ciência Viva Science Centers Network, but also working closely with schools, universities and the scientific community. We will visit the Science Centre, the Pavilion of Knowledge. This visit will include:

  • a visit to the exhibitions
  • a behind the scenes tour
  • and a sharing of ideas with the Head of Education, Science and Culture.
In addition, two other staff members will give presentations on their outreach work:  Margarida Suarez, and the education officer responsible for the senior citizen engagement, Claudia Velhas.  The Staff will return to the MV explorer with us so we can give them a tour of the ship and discuss the SAS study abroad program.   Academic Objectives:
  1. Learn about science outreach to the public in Portugal
  2. Learn about science literacy in Portugal
  3. Learn about public support of science functions in Portugal