2020 Himsworth

Project Title Mission Possible! A plan to expand and refine the open-source science communication textbook “The Mission, the Message, and the Medium.”
Principal Investigator Chelsea Himsworth
Co-Investigators Kaylee Byers, PhD Candidate, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
Faculty Medicine
Funding Year 2019/20
Project Summary

We live in an increasingly complex, fast-paced, and volatile world. The stakes have never been higher, and it is no longer sufficient for scientists to throw information into the public sphere and hope that it can be understood and applied. Indeed, it is now clear that scientists have a moral obligation to spend as much time, thought, and effort in the communication of their knowledge products as they do in the generation of the knowledge itself. If scientific voices are to be heard above the din, and, more importantly, used for personal, public, and political decision-making, then efficient and effective communication is essential. However, science communication, and particularly the communication of risk in the scientific context, is difficult to do well, particularly without the appropriate training.

SPPH 552, a course first offered at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health in the spring of 2020, entitled “Risk and Communication in Public Health,” was developed to meet this need. The ultimate goal of SPPH 552 is to provide students with the knowledge, practice, and mentorship required to become effective science and risk communicators. Since the course was developed for a blended learning environment with much of the content delivered online, resources to facilitate asynchronous learning needed to be identified. However, it became clear, after extensive research, that there was no existing textbook that really fit the objectives or the spirit of this course. Some resources were incredibly technical but difficult to read and sorely lacking in flair or creativity, while others were fun and inspiring but not detailed enough to facilitate implementation. So, rather than providing a stack of references to sift through, an open source textbook was developed entitled The Mission, the Message and the Medium or MMM.

MMM is a synthesis of what was estimated to be the best content with which to start building a science and risk communication ‘palette’. However, the textbook is intended to be a work in progress that will develop and mature over time in collaboration with students and other communicators. Towards this end, we propose to revise the textbook based on student feedback (collected specifically for the purpose of this revision), to incorporate student-authored content developed during the course, and to copyedit the text. Our ultimate goal is to release of the text publicly, to solicit collaborators through the broader Open Education community, and to develop and refine the textbook so that MMM can be used a resource for scientists and science communicators beyond SPPH and UBC.

Grant type Rapid Innovation
Funded Amount $1,000