What courses are we running at the moment?

It’s mid-trimester break, so it seems like a good time to reflect on what Science in Context courses are running at the moment … and what’s coming up. I still haven’t wrapped my head around the dates of term-times in New Zealand so for those other non-antipodeans out there, we’re currently in Trimester 2, which runs from July to October. We offer all of our courses through Continuing Education as well – so they’re open to anyone, even if you’re not a student or don’t need the credit. Continuing Education students get to enjoy the learning, discussions, and content but don’t need to take the assessments: score!

This trimester, we’re running SCIE201: Energy, Society, and the Future. This online course has about 80 students this year who appear to be really enjoying the content and having some robust conversations in the discussion forum – they’ve learnt about different energy sources until now and next up will be looking at different options for our future.

SCIE311: Science Communication Rebecca and I are really enjoying teaching this course – one of our few face-to-face courses, and the only compulsory course in the Science in Context Minor. We have about 25 students enrolled who are submitting and developing fantastic work. Their first assignment had to be a piece of written science communication, and the second can explore other media (infographic, video, podcast, spoken word, event, performance, visual art, app, game … you name it, they’re trying it). We’re also really enjoying the fantastic line-up of visiting lecturers who are showing the breadth and potential of science communication and opportunities for public engagement with science, as well as sharing more thoughtful insights into the goals and purpose of these activities. I look forward to sharing some of our students’ work on this site at the end of the trimester.

CREW352: Creative Science Writing Workshop Rebecca is co-teaching this course with Ashleigh Young, using the successful workshop technique developed by the International Institute of Modern Letters, and a small and select group of students are busy critiquing a wide range of creative non-fiction science writing while also developing their own portfolios.

Another course, run exclusively through Continuing Education, is Ethical Issues of our Time: Computers, Climate, and Conception. Every Wednesday throughout October we will be joining colleagues to look at ethical issues from climate change to phone hacking and wiki-leaks to reproductive technologies. This course is open to anyone with an interest in learning more.

Coming up in the summer: SCIE211: Contemporary Issues in Science and Society Offered as a 12 week course Nov – Feb, or a 6 week course from January. This is the original and longest-running of our courses that explore ‘Science in Context’. In 2011, we started with 28 students and a module led by Sir Paul Callaghan. Three years on, we now have over 200 students each year and a diverse range of contemporary modules that all explore some aspect of the relationship between science and society. This year we’ll exploring big questions like “Should genes be patented?”, “What is the most important thing to understand about climate change and what can we do about it?”, “What are the potential benefits and implications of more nanotechnology in our society?”, and “Is there any value of a predator-free New Zealand and of so, what would it take to achieve this?”

SCIE401: Climate science and decision-making This short course will run for the third year in Jan-Feb 2015 and looks at the complex relationship between science, policy, international diplomacy, and economics … among other things. Also available through Professional and Executive development, this course traditionally attracts students working – or wanting to work – in the climate science/policy sector.

And in March 2015 SCIE312: Revolutions in Science Another popular online course with an energetic discussion forum. This course reviews major theories in science history, from classical Greek science to the European enlightenment to 20th C revolutions in physics, biology and earth sciences including New Zealand’s science history.

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