Home < Schools, Colleges, and Programs < College of Agricultural and Life Sciences < Degrees, Majors, and Certificate Programs < Life Sciences Communication

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Life Sciences Communication

Life Sciences Communication Major
Curriculum Description

235 Hiram Smith Hall, 1545 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-1464; lifescicomm@cals.wisc.edu; www.lsc.wisc.edu

Professors Brossard (chair), Loew, Meiller, Reaves, Scheufele; Associate Professors Shaw, Shepard; Faculty Associates Botham, Stanley; Lecturers Flaherty, Seely, Smith, Still

Life Sciences Communication Major

The Department of Life Sciences Communication (LSC) prepares students for careers as professional communicators in scientific and technical fields, or for graduate school. Scientific areas of expertise include the environment and natural resources, health and nutrition, agriculture, biotechnology and nanotechnology,  and social sciences. In 1908, LSC became the first department of what was then termed Agricultural Journalism in the world, and retains the leadership position in science communication.

Graduates of the program are highly sought after by employers across scientific and communication industries. Key to the education that LSC students receive is a combination of theoretical grounding and state-of-the-art practical application. Our instructors are a mix of world-class researchers and real-world practitioners of regional or national profiles.

Students receive training across print, audio, video and web. They learn to target and create communications for both news and marketing. Most importantly, they learn to plan strategically and implement the most effective communications for diverse publics.

Students complete an undergraduate major in Life Sciences Communication under the Bachelor of Science degree program. Students in this program have the flexibility to explore environmental and health communication; agricultural business, industry, social marketing; or the international context.

College regulations permit a student to major simultaneously in Life Sciences Communication
while pursuing another major in a different department. This provides a student with strong communication skills and solid grounding in another subject matter area. Nonmajors can also benefit from taking communication skills courses.

The major comprises 24 credits. All majors take: a foundation science writing course (3 credits); a research methods course (3 credits); a science, media and society course (3 credits); two additional courses from a list of core classes (6 credits); a capstone course (3 credits). The remaining credits are taken in one of three potential concentrations (6 credits):  Communication in the Life Sciences; Communication Strategy; Communication Skills and Technology.

Communication in the Life Sciences Concentration:  focuses on theoretical approaches to specific communication issues in the life sciences context, such as health communication, Native American environmental issues and the media, and contemporary communication and their social effects.

Communication Strategy Concentration: focuses on the skills and theory necessary to effectively communicate with audiences in the life sciences context, while satisfying the long terms strategic goals of an organization; it includes courses in advertising, social marketing, and risk communication.

Communication Skills and Technology Concentration:  focuses on the skills required to translate organized information into informative and persuasive messages for a variety of media, such as newswriting, documentary photography, publications editing, web design and video production. 

Independent Concentration:  is determined by the student and the advisor and approved by the director of undergraduate studies.

Curriculum Description (24 credits)

Foundation Courses (3 credits), one required course among:

L Sc Com 111 Science and Technology Newswriting
L Sc Com 212 Introduction to Scientific Communication

Required Core Courses

L Sc Com 250 Research Methods in the Communication Industry AND
L Sc Com 251 Science, Media, and Society

Additional Core Courses (6 credits); two required courses among:

L Sc Com 270 Communication in Life Sciences Industries
L Sc Com 314 Introduction to Digital Video Production
L Sc Com 320 Feature Writing
L Sc Com 332 Print and Electronic Media Design
L Sc Com 350 Visualizing Science and Technology
L Sc Com 360 Information Radio

Concentrations (6 credits), two required courses in one concentration:

Communication in the Life Sciences
L Sc Com 440 Contemporary Communication Technologies and Their Social Effects
L Sc Com 444 Native American Environmental Issues and the Media
L Sc Com 560 Scientific Writing
L Sc Com 617 Health Communication in the Information
L Sc Com 660 Data Analysis in Communications Research

Communication Strategy
L Sc Com 431 Advertising in the Life Sciences
L Sc Com 432 Social Media for the Life Sciences
L Sc Com 435 Theory and Practice of Integrated Marketing Communication
L Sc Com 616 Mass Media and Youth
L Sc Com 625 Risk Communication
L Sc Com 660 Data Analysis in Communications Research

Communication Skills and Technologies
L Sc Com 430 Investigative Science Reporting
L Sc Com 432 Social Media for the Life Sciences
L Sc Com 450 Documentary Photography for the Sciences
L Sc Com 505 Publications Editing
L Sc Com 532 Web Design for the Sciences
L Sc Com 560 Scientific Writing
L Sc Com 614 Advanced Video Production

Independent Concentration
Two courses that must be approved by LSC Curriculum Committee

Capstone Course (3 credits)

L Sc Com 515 Public Information Campaign OR
L Sc Com 640 Case Studies in the Communication of Science and Technology