Master’s in Science Communication Program Launches Concentration in Climate Communication

In Fall 2024, the School of Communication and Journalism (SoCJ), in partnership with the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS), will launch a concentration in climate communication as part of its Master of Science in Science Communication program.

The climate communication concentration offers students additional opportunities to gain expertise in a critical, complex and often politicizing area of science and science communication. 

“This new concentration offers an in-depth exploration of how we talk about climate, climate change, and the associated human and planetary costs,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the SoCJ and executive director of the Alda Center for Communicating Science. “Our science communication program balances the importance of accurate scientific information with the need for engaging, ethical communication and helps to answer a growing societal need. The climate communication concentration doubles down on both and focuses on this one vital issue.”

The concentration differs from the general program across all five elective courses. In addition to the core program requirements (18 credits), students in the climate communication concentration will be required to take Climate Communication (COM 550), Communicating Science and Health Risks to the Public (COM 585) and Environmental Communication (COM 605).

They will also choose two additional electives from the following list: Communicating Science to Policy Makers (COM 522), Environmental Management (MAR 514), Environment and Public Health (MAR 525), Seminar in Decision Support for Climate Change Solutions (MAR 534), and Practical Skills for Scientists (MAR 568). These five courses, worth a total of 15 academic credits, replace the electives from the general concentration. 

Both concentrations require a total of 33 credits, or 11 courses, to complete the degree, and may be finished in as little as 1.5 years.

“Climate change is affecting everything about our lives: where we live, what we eat, our health and of course the global economy,” said Christine Gilbert, assistant professor of climate communication with a joint appointment at SoCJ and SoMAS. “Our society needs professionals who can talk about these changes, including what we know and what we don’t know about them, so that individuals and communities can make informed decisions for themselves.”

The Stony Brook master’s in science communication program is one of a small handful of programs in the United States that offers scientists, researchers and others with a demonstrated interest in research a path to embark on a career as a professional science communicator.

The new concentration was developed to align with graduate student demand and faculty research interests. A significant number of current students in the science communication program work in fields where climate change, and therefore communication about climate, is having an impact. Current students and recent graduates work for a fishery in the Pacific Northwest, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Health and the Cornell Cooperative Exchange, among others.

The master’s program is affiliated with the Alda Center for Communicating Science that helps professional researchers learn and improve their science communication strategies and techniques. The Alda Center works with private corporations, government agencies, universities and other research labs around the country and internationally.

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