Science Communication (M.S.Com Or G.dip)
Develop the knowledge and skills to understand and effectively engage audiences in science and scientific issues.
Attend science communication related conferences, field trips, and guest lecturer sessions.
Work closely with local researchers to share contemporary research with local and international audiences using a variety of modes of communication.
Learn about public engagement best practices and develop new educational experiences by working closely with Staff Scientists and Science Communicators at Science North
Students enrolled in the Masters of Science Communication will conduct original research and write a major paper to complete the program.
Dr. Chantal Barriault
Telephone: 705-675-1151 ext. 4139
Office: Faculty of Science, Engineering and Architecture
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Field trips normally take place in November and February and expose students to a wide range of communication styles and techniques exemplifying effective communication. Students will be responsible for assignments based upon critical analysis of selected experiences during the trip. Institutions which may be visited include: Ontario Science Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and the Perimeter Institute and the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo. An underground tour of the neutrino and dark matter physics research facility SNOLab in Sudbury is usually scheduled in the spring term. There are also opportunities to attend science communication related conferences and events throughout the year.
Each class incorporates practical components that allow students to apply the theory and best practices that they've learned in class to real world projects. Students hone their skills by visualizing real data sets, developing actionable communication plans, and documenting research as it evolves at Laurentian University, Science North, and our community research partners. These products are often shared with targeted audiences online, in workshops, and through science centre exhibits and events, with students evaluating the efficacy of the outreach and writing reflections on their experiences.
Every two weeks we welcome guest lecturers in the field of science communication. They showcase career opportunities in the field and provide real world context to the theories and practices taught in class. Topics presented range from public speaking tips, science journalism, medical writing, animation, filmmaking for social media, focus group facilitation, media training, and risk communication.
Past guest lecturers include:
Helen Leask, Medical Script Writing
Helen is the founder, president and creative director of Script Medical, an award-winning medical communications agency based in Toronto, Ontario. Her ability to see the "so what?" in the science - and put it into words - has shaped innumerable pharmaceutical communications programs globally and inspired many new medical writers entering the business.
Peter Calamai, Freelance newspaper and magazine writer and Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication.
Peter worked for 30 years as a reporter and editor with the now-defunct Southam newspapers. A 1965 B.Sc. physics graduate from McMaster University, he was the national science reporter for Southam News from 1973 to 1977 and filled a similar post for The Toronto Star from 1998 to 2008, both times based in Ottawa. A founder of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association, Peter is also a director of the Science Media Centre of Canada. He has been honoured for science journalism by the Canadian Association of Physicists, the Royal Canadian Institute, the Geological Association of Canada and the American Meteorological Society. He is also a three-time winner of National Newspaper Awards for spot news reporting and feature writing.
Stephanie Hawkins, Senior Analyst, Strategy and Operations at Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA)
Stephanie Hawkins is an alumni of the science communication program and was the Project Manager for the Toronto and Region Remedial Action Plan for 3 years. She has completed graduate studies at Queen's University (Biology - Aquatic Toxicology) and and M.B.A. at Yale. Prior to joining Toronto and Region Conservation, she held positions with the Department of National Defence - Land Force Central Area, and the Nunavut Regional Office of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
Franco Mariotti, Science North - Public speaking
A staff scientist at Science North, Franco has over 25 years of science communication and is well versed in translating natural science for the public. He has made hundreds of presentations to community groups, and was co-host of the Down to Earth television show for six years.
Andy Fyon, Ontario Geological Survey - Aboriginal Community engagement
Andy is the director of the Ontario Geological survey and specializes in Aboriginal community engagement, geological survey planning, science organization leadership, and demonstrating value for public investment.
Dougal McCreath, Emeritus Professor, Laurentian University - Nuclear waste risk communication
A former Civil and Mining engineering professor of Laurentian University, Dr.Dougal McCreath is currently an advisor to Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). The nuclear industry funds the organization for the specific purpose of finding safe choices in handling nuclear waste.
Scott Fairgrieve, Laurentian University - Forensic science communication
Dr. Fairgrieve is the founding Chair of the Department of Forensic Science at Laurentian University. As Director of the Forensic Osteology Laboratory, he is the Forensic Anthropology consultant to the Northeast Regional Forensic Pathology Unit at Health Sciences North. Dr. Fairgrieve is published in the areas of forensic anthropology, microscopy of bone, and the analysis of intentionally burned human remains. He has testified in court for the Crown in Canada and for the defence in the United States.
Tim Lougheed - Writing
A writer and editor specializing in science, medicine and education, Tim Lougheed's work has appeared in a number of Canadian newspapers and magazines, including Arthritis News, Canadian Consumer, Canadian Geographic, Family Practice, Equinox, The Financial Times of Canada, Laboratory Focus, The Medical Post, Ottawa Business Quarterly, the Ottawa Citizen, and University Affairs. A former president of the Canadian Science Writers' Association, he has worked with communications staff and researchers on projects at Queen's University, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, as well as various government agencies and private organizations. A former general assignment reporter for the Sault Star and the Windsor Star, he has been freelancing full-time in the Ottawa area since 1991.
Suitable candidates for the Master’s in Science Communication and Graduate Diploma must have a minimum of 70% GPA and an Honours B.Sc., B.Eng. or a BA in a relevant discipline such as science, technology and society programs, liberal science, anthropology or other university programs from which they have gained a demonstrated ability to understand scientific knowledge and to analyze scientific issues. Admission will be granted on the basis of a written application. Students must demonstrate their interest in, and understanding of science communication issues as well as their communication ability as evidenced by a statement of interest, and by major essays, honours thesis or comparable report writing. Evidence of communication ability may also be in the form of extra-curricular projects such as science presentations, workshops or seminars to public audiences.
Step 1. Submit the online application. Once students have applied, they will receive instructions from the Office of Admissions leading them to the MyLaurentian portal. Students can access the portal at my.laurentian.ca; sign in credentials will be provided in the correspondence received from the Office of Admissions upon successful completion of an application. The following documents will be required in order to complete an application.
- Three Reference Forms (to begin the process at my.laurentian.ca click on "Reference Submission" on the left-hand navigation menu)
- Statement of Interest (to be uploaded via MyLaurentian)
- Curriculum Vitae/Resume (to be uploaded via MyLaurentian)
- Official Academic Transcript(s) from all post secondary studies* (Please note that current or prior Laurentian University students do not need to request transcripts)
*Please note that official transcripts must come directly to the Office of Admissions from the previous post secondary institution by requesting at the time of your application or by contacting the institution's Registrar's Office.
Step 2. Once the Admissions Office receives all information and the application is deemed complete, the application will be forwarded to the department. An Admissions Committee meets to review the applications.
Step 3. The Admissions Committee will review all applications on file and make a decision regarding the suitability of each applicant. The Admissions Committee will then make a recommendation to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Laurentian University. The Graduate Studies office will verify the dossier and if satisfactory, the Dean of Graduate Studies will forward the recommendation to the Office of Admissions at Laurentian University for admission.
Step 4: If approved for admission, the Office of Admissions will send the student an Offer of Admission via MyLaurentian. Applicants wishing to accept the offer of admission must indicate their response on MyLaurentian within 3 weeks of receiving the offer. Once the student has accepted the offer, a transition to the registration process occurs.
For Current Students
The degree options listed below are for the upcoming academic year, not the current academic year. If you are a current student looking for which courses to take in order to complete your degree options from a previous academic year's curriculum, please consult with an academic advisor.
Students must follow these regulations while in the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
Master in Science Communication (33 credits)
SCOM 5016 Audiences and Issues
SCOM 5026 Learning Theories and Practice in Science Communication
SCOM 5036 Theories and Principles in Science Communication
SCOM 5056 Design Theory in Science Communication
SCOM 5066 Science Communication Practice I: Orientation
SCOM 5116 Research Methods in Science Communication
SCOM 5125 Major Research Paper in Science Communication
SCOM 5136 Communication Science Through New Media
SCOM 5146 Science Communication Practice II: Professional Experience
Electives (Choose one)
SCOM 5076 Communicating Science Through Exhibits
SCOM 5106 Communicating Science Through Traditional Media
Graduate Diploma (27 credits)
SCOM-5016EL-Audiences and Issues
SCOM-5026EL-Learning: Theories and Practice
SCOM-5036EL-Theories and Principles of Science Communication
SCOM-5056EL-Design Theory in Science Communication
SCOM-5066EL-Science Communication Practice
SCOM-5116EL-Research Methods in Science Communication
SCOM-5136 EL Communicating Science Through New Media
SCOM-5146 EL Science Communication Practice II: Professional Experience
1 of the following 2 courses:
SCOM-5076EL-Communicating Science Through Exhibits
SCOM-5106EL-Communicating Science Through Traditional Media
Students in enrolled in either the Masters of Science Communication or the Graduate Diploma will register for all of the courses in the list below, and will select only one of the following electives for their second term:
SCOM-5076 EL-Communicating Science through Exhibits (3cr)
SCOM-5106 EL-Communicating Science through Traditional Media (3cr)
Students are able to register for their desired elective later in their first term once they have a clear idea of which course best suits their interests.
Students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma do not enroll in SCOM 5125 - Major Research Paper in Science Communication. With the exception of this major research paper, students in both the Graduate Diploma stream and Masters in Science Communication stream will take all of their classes together.
Audiences and Issues
Learning Theories and Practices in Science Communication
Theories and Principles of Science Communication
Design Theory in Science Communication
Science Communication Practice I: Orientation
Communicating Science Through Exhibits
Communicating Science Through Traditional Media
Research Methods in Science Communication
Major Research Paper in Science Communication
Communication Science Through New Media
Science Communication Practice II: Professional Placement
Science Communication Program Technical Advisor - Michelle Reid
As the program's Technical Advisor and a sessional lecturer, Michelle assists with coordinating student applications, internship placements, graduate research assistantships, guest speakers and workshops, major research projects, field trips, multimedia production, experiential learning opportunities, and community partnerships. Prospective students, interested researchers, and community partners are encouraged to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the program.