Next Monday I start my induction to the Science Communication MSc at Imperial College, London. It’s a new adventure for me, and for many of my new class mates.
I was lucky to meet a few of them at the 21st birthday party for the Sci-comm course last week, and I realised just how much of a varied bunch we are. There are many recent graduates like myself, but then there are also post-docs, teachers, media professionals and others who decided on a change in career.
I’ve spoken to some of the course alumni too, and they said that you learn many skills from each other. For the group projects, quite often you don’t get taught how to use certain bits of either video- or audio-editing software. Instead you are expected to learn from each other. I think this is a great idea, it not only teaches those who know the skills to pass them on, but it will also be interesting to see how well people learn from their peers, not just their professors.
This is one of the benefits of working with such a wide variety of people. Many of us will have many different backgrounds, and therefore as a collective, we will have many more skills, ideas and experiences to draw from.
The course is also going to be very essay intensive, especially in the first term. I think will be the most challenging part for me. I have been studying science and maths since I finished my GCSE’s in 2005 and I have not written an essay since my English GCSE exams, so I may struggle. But, these are skills I am hoping to improve on.
With hindsight though, I think having kept up my essay writing skills would probably have been a very good idea. Even if I stayed in science, and were to only write scientific papers and reports, knowing how to use the language and my write work up in different formats would mean that it would be possible to access a much wider audience.
But this is one of the reasons why I want to do science communication in the first place. Not to spread the word of my own work (I haven’t done a huge amount yet) but to spread the word about science as a whole. As to how, or to which target audience I don’t know yet, but I guess I will figure this out as I go through the course.
There are many practical elements to this course, as well as essay writing and theory, which I think are part of the attraction. Getting the chance to be more creative about how to communicate science will be very interesting, and it will be great to see what people can come up with. Communicating science isn’t just about publishing academic papers to your peers; it affects the entire world, and hence I think people should be given the opportunity to be made aware of what is happening in science.
I have been following the Refractive Index blog, written by the Sci-comm students. It showcases all their project work, and some of the things they have managed to come up with are just amazing. I don’t think I could ever come up with concepts like this, but I hope to be able to work with some great people who will push each others creative boundaries and come up with some new and innovative ideas.
So, I am looking forward to learning many new skills, making many new friends, and learning to see science from a whole new perspective.