Sophomore Seminars

Talking about Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Floods: Science Communication and Natural Hazards

EARTHSYS 39Q
Prerequisites: 
Completion of PWR 1 or other WR 1 course.

In an age of fake news, how do we communicate the importance of scientific facts? How do we compel action from an individual to a national level when the facts alone aren’t enough? In this class you will learn the basic tools of science communication through the lens of natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and extreme weather. You will learn the basics of the science that drives these hazards, and how to communicate that science to different audiences. Recent research has shown that relaying scientific knowledge alone to potentially vulnerable populations does not have a significant impact on increasing their resilience to those hazards. Therefore, it is increasingly important to train a new generation of science communicators and translators who can effectively relay complex information in engaging and understandable ways.

This course fulfills the second-level Writing and Rhetoric Requirement (WRITE 2) and emphasizes oral and multimedia presentation.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Kathleen Phillips

"I'm an earth scientist who has always been fascinated by how the Earth works. I'm particularly intrigued by volcanoes and have done research in Hawaii on the most active volcano on Earth, Kilauea, trying to understand the mechanics of how volcanoes grow and the hazards they generate. During this work, I also became interested in how scientists communicate what they learn about hazards to the people living near these volcanoes. Translating complex information in a way that different audiences can understand is an important skill unto itself, and I love to work with students on building this skill."