The science is complex.
Our messages don’t have to be.
Public understanding of science- and tech-related matters is essential to our wellbeing as a society. It determines the legislation we pass, the behaviors we adopt, and the causes we champion. But research shows that scientists and citizens often see the same issues through different lenses, especially when it comes to polarizing issues.
Media specialists, journalists, and advertising and public relations professionals can be change agents. Yet many lack the knowledge to effectively convey complex scientific and technological benefits to an increasingly skeptical public.
The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) launched the Media Center for Science and Technology (MCST) to bridge the gap. In October 2017, a portion of a $50 million anonymous gift to create the Presidential Fund for Excellence provided initial funding to establish the center and hire a director to lead it.
The SOJC is uniquely positioned to launch the center because of its established expertise in media, journalism, strategic communication, and creative storytelling. Nearly a dozen faculty already research and teach at the intersection of science, technology, and communication. And the school’s proximity to existing and emerging science and tech hubs in the Pacific Northwest make it a logical partner for research and collaboration.
The Media Center for Science and Technologies has three priorities:
- Conducting interdisciplinary collaborations and research to understand how scientific discoveries and technological solutions are conveyed and understood by a variety of audiences.
- Attracting and training students for the high-tech communication careers of the future.
- Enhancing public understanding of science and technology.
MCST will work collaboratively with university scientists, external institutions, and private companies to conduct research and evaluate best practices. Graduate and undergraduate students will have the opportunity to work alongside faculty and industry leaders. And they will learn best practices for compelling and creative storytelling to increase public understanding of the scientific breakthroughs that impact their daily lives.
They will ask and answer questions such as:
- How does media content affect public engagement with scientific and technical information?
- How can scientific discoveries and technology innovations be communicated effectively to audiences with diverse beliefs, values, and interests?
- How can communicators frame scientific, technological, and environmental information across new media platforms?
- Which media content helps audiences best understand uncertainty and complexity?
Students will also gain hands-on experience creating and testing multimedia content through videos, websites, photographs, data visualization, interactivity, infographics, and social media content. And they’ll have access to new communication technology, such as 360 video and virtual reality.
The support of alumni, donors, and industry partners is essential to the success and longevity of the center. You can have a significant and tangible impact on the future of the SOJC by supporting the launch of MCST. If you are interested in exploring ways to support and sustain the center, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.