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Appreciated course for doctoral students who want to learn to communicate research

This spring, the popular course in Communicating Science is given for the fifth time for doctoral students at the University of Gothenburg.
Read more about what the participants in the last round thought.

Communicating research to the rest of the world is getting more and more important – but is not entirely easy.

That was why Lorenzo Minola, PhD student at the University of Gothenburg, chose to learn more at the popular course in communicating science that JMG offers. He could immediately use the new knowledge and has now written a popular scientific debate article about the climate that was published.

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Porträtt på Lorenzo Minola
Lorenzo Minola.

Lorenzo Minola is one of 17 PhD students at the University of Gothenburg who has participated in the course ”Communicating science” arranged by the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG).

The course, given for the fourth time, was entirely run in English for the participants from eleven different countries from all over the world: Algeria, Egypt, India, Italy, Moçambique, Russia, Sweden, South Africa, Germany, USA and Belarus.

The participants were PhD students in several different subjects, like biology and environmental science, chemistry and molecular biology, filosofy, linguistics and theory of science, social work, earth science, literature, history of ideas and religion, psychology, business administration, economic geography, IT plus journalism, media and communication.

Communication is increasingly needed today

Common for all these students was the need to learn more about communicating their science and their research results.

– To be able to communicate is increasingly needed today and you need to have a strategic plan for communication, not the least when you apply for financing your research, says Lorenzo Minola, PhD student at the Regional Climate Group (RCG) at the Department of Earth Sciences. RCG was formed already 1995 for research about the climate.

– Within my area of research the human effect on the climate has been highlighted since the 1960s but still so very little has been done to turn this development around. For a long time I have been thinking that the reason might be the inability by the scientific community to communicate their results to the rest of the world.

This was one of the reasons that made Lorenzo Minola decide to participate in the course in research communication. During the course, that was given at quarter pace, he has learned more about:

  • The research community and the public sphere
  • Analysis of the surrounding world and communication planning
  • Addressing and writing for the public sphere

Both theory and practice

– The course was initiated by the Faculty of Social Sciences in 2015 to give PhD students better prerequisites to be able to take part in the public debate and communicate their research, explains the course coordinator Bengt Johansson, professor at JMG.

– We combine theory with practice. General lectures about the role of the researcher and the third stream activities is combined with more practical elements. But it is also important that we also offer theoretical building blocks with the practical elements, for example how you present and think strategically when it comes to communication.

Among the lecturers are teachers at the journalism programme who also have experience from working with science journalism. Malin Avenius and Ulf Benkel for example work as freelance journalists besides the teaching at JMG. They have been responsible for several of the workshops at the course where the participants have practised being interviewed, make their own podds and choosing the right angle to reach out in the media.

Amazing – a satisfying assignment

– I love teaching at this course, says Ulf Benkel. Partly because it´s amazing to get the insight into all the exciting research being conducted in different part of the University of Gothenburg. Partly because it´s so much fun to feel that you are so useful. Hopefully we can contribute with tools that enables the participants of the course to communicate all the interesting research they spend their time doing, so that they reach more people – that is a very satisfying assignment.

For Lorenzo Minola the course led to writing a debate article about a very topical subject, ”Why are we more afraid of the corona virus than climate change?” that was published in the magazine ETC.

Positive evaluations

Many of the participants were like Lorenzo Minola very happy with the course and wrote among other things in their evaluations:

  • ”Un incredibly rewarding course that focuses on improving the PhD student´s/researcher´s ability to reach out with their research but also improves our presentation techniques and how we clearly can mediate a message. Focuses also on learning by practically trying different elements which makes it easier to learn the theories. ”Learning by doing” but with the theoretical framework first”.
  • ”Everyone involved in the course have been very professional and also dedicated where their extensive work with giving us feedback to improve but also highlight our strenghts is immensely appreciated and valuable”.
  • ”This has been a course on which I had great expectations and which it has met – and more.”

Register your preliminary interest

We are currently planning for when and in what form the course will be given next time.

As a PhD student at the University of Gothenburg you can send and e-mail to register your preliminary interest to isabella.zander@jmg.gu.se

Further reading

Link to the article by Lorenzo Minola in the magazine ETC (in Swedish): https://www.etc.se/debatt/varfor-skrammer-coronaviruset-oss-mer-klimatforandringar