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College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Life Sciences Communication

Life Sciences Communication Major
Curriculum Description

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

Professors Brossard (chair), Loew, Reaves, Scheufele, Shepard; Associate Professor Shaw; Assistant Professor Stenhouse; Faculty Associates Botham, Stanley; Lecturers Flaherty, Meiller, Runge, 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 important, 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)

Courses may not double count within the major (unless specifically noted otherwise), but courses counted toward the major requirements may also be used to satisfy a university requirement and/or a college requirement. A minimum of 15 credits must be completed in the major which are not used elsewhere.

Note: Students must have a minimum of 15 credits within the LSC major that do not double count with CALS or university “general education” requirements.

Math 112 or 114 or placement exam recommended to fulfill the CALS Quantitative Reasoning Part A requirement.

Stat 201 or 301 or 371 or C&E Sox 360 recommended to fulfill the CALS Quantitative Reasoning Part B requirement.

Foundation Courses (3 cr)

L Sc Com 111 or L Sc Com 212


L Sc Com 250
L Sc Com 251

6 credits from the following:

L Sc Com 270
L Sc Com 314
L Sc Com 320
L Sc Com 332
L Sc Com 350
L Sc Com 360

Concentrations within major (6 cr)

Life Sciences Communication
L Sc Com 440
L Sc Com 444
L Sc Com 560
L Sc Com 617

Communication Strategy
L Sc Com 431
L Sc Com 432
L Sc Com 435
L Sc Com 616
L Sc Com 625
L Sc Com 660

Communication Skills and Technologies
L Sc Com 430
L Sc Com 432
L Sc Com 450
L Sc Com 505
L Sc Com 532
L Sc Com 560
L Sc Com 614

Independent Concentration
Must complete 6 credits approved by the advisor and the LSC Curriculum Committee and reported to 116 Agricultural Hall.

Capstone (3 cr)

L Sc Com 515 or L Sc Com 640