Special Topics Course: Communicating Neuroscience Sample Syllabus
Instructor: Dr. Margarita Kaplow
Prerequisites: INTRONS (NEURL-UA 100), Molecular and Cellular Biology I (BIOL-UA 21)
Co-requisites: Behavioral and Integrative Neuroscience (NEURL-UA 220)
Course Objective: The main objective of this course is to learn and practice effective communication methods for translating the significance of neuroscience research to a broad audience. The class will closely examine the relationship between neural science research, popular media, and government policy. Students will analyze scientific research papers and discuss the dissemination of results to the general public. Students will also hone in on writing skills and practice communicating to a scientific audience. Students will be assigned a scientific article in the field of neuroscience to present to the class. Presentations will be followed by a discussion of popular press articles corresponding to the neuroscience research article previously discussed in class. Students will critique both scientific journal articles and corresponding popular press articles, and will discuss the strengths and weakness of each article. Topics of discussion will include: How are the innovations in the field of neuroscience communicated to the public? What details are edited and filtered out when communicating neuroscience to the public? What are benefits and disadvantages of editing the specific results of a research article? What is the right balance for communicating research and should limitations be included? What findings are typically highlighted in popular media and why? Students will also discuss the impact of neuroscience research on shaping government policy.
1) To master critical and analytical skills through the evaluation and critique of scientific literature.
2) To learn the broad impact of neuroscience research to the general public.
3) To sharpen scientific communication skills.
4) To learn the significance of neuroscience in shaping government and health policy.
5) To develop effective communications skills when discussing neuroscience to the general public.
Grading and Evaluation
Presenting neuroscience research article- 20%
In Class Assignments- 25%
Attendance and Participation - 5%
Final Project - 25-% (Writing component- 12.5% Presentation- 12.5%)
Oral presentation I (scientific paper presentation)
Students will be assigned one scientific article that they will individually present to the class. Presentation will encompass detailed evaluation of figures. Students are required to discuss the significance of results. Students should emphasize the broader impact of the study during their presentation. Students will critique the presentations of their peers. The format of the presentation will be discussed in detail during class. The structure for Oral presentation I should be geared towards a scientific audience. Homework- Homework questions will require students to read and analyze the scientific research article. Weekly assignments will also involve reading and popular press article corresponding to the scientific paper previously presented during the week. Homework questions will focus on specific passages of both articles. Students will be required to either write a short review of the popular press article or answer questions regarding articles. Students will discuss the weakness and strengths of popular press article during class time.
In Class Assignments
This will be collaborative and involve case study assignments, designing experiments, problem solving, researching a specific neuroscience topic relevant to the general public, generating novel ideas and communicating clearly to both lay and scientific audiences. Attendance and Participation- Students are required to be active participants during lecture, homework review, group discussions and presentations. Attendance is mandatory. Missing three class lectures will result in a 2% drop in your overall class grade. Please do not be late to class since this is disruptive during presentations and discussions. Students arriving more than 15 minutes late to class will not be permitted to attend class and will be considered absent for the lecture.
FINAL RESEARCH PROJECT
Oral Presentation II
Students will research a neuroscience academic paper that they consider to have broad significance to the general public. The research article must be approved by the instructor. Students will present this scientific paper to the class and unlike the presentation earlier in the semester they are expected to focus on the overall impact of the paper. Why should their article be featured in NPR Science Friday or the NY Times? Students will make a strong case to the class on the broad implications of their research article. Students should only present the most important figures of the paper, one to two figures maximum. A review of your scientific paper- You will be required to write a one-page summary of your scientific paper. Emphasize the significance of the journal article. Write this review as if you are writing a piece for popular press/media. You will have the opportunity to revise your scientific review. 6.25% of your grade will be from your original draft and 6.25% of your grade will come from the revised version of your review. Required reading: There will be no required textbook for this course. I will provide primary research articles, popular press articles and review articles for topics covered during lecture on NYU classes. You will be required to read research articles and popular press articles before each class meeting. Please follow the schedule posted on the syllabus and make sure you turn in homework writing assignments on time. Late work will not be accepted and will result in a zero for that homework assignment.
Please let the instructor know ahead of time if you anticipate being absent during class meeting times.
Please adhere to the NYU’s policy on plagiarism and cheating. Plagiarism will be reported to the Neural Science Director of Undergraduate Studies, the Associate Dean of Students and may result in failing the course or other disciplinary actions. Cite resources for both presentations and writing assignments.
Disability Disclosure Statement: Academic accommodations are available for students with disabilities. The Moses Center website is www.nyu.edu/csd. Please contact the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (212-998-4980 or email@example.com) for further information. Students who are requesting academic accommodations are advised to reach out to the Moses Center as early as possible in the semester for assistance.
**Syllabus schedule is subject to change depending on the pace of class discussions**