This course is designed to equip students with the theoretical and practical skills needed for understanding and managing the complexity of science, media and policy relations. It is based around two core modules (detailed below) alongside the wide range of other MA modules on offer at Warwick. There is also a bursary available for students on the module.
Contact Eric for more information about this or anything else relating to the MSc.
Term One: Understanding Science, Media and Public Policy (delivered by Steve Fuller)
Drawing on resources from history, philosophy and social studies of science, as well as recent social theory, this module will survey and critique various frameworks for conceptualising the relationship between science, media and public policy. Among the topics covered include: science’s public accountability, the role of peer review in authorising scientific knowledge, the comparative demands of scientific and journalistic inquiry, the role of public relations in science, the idea of science as a cultural product, media’s duty to educate, inform and entertain the public about science, scientists as political advisors, actors and advocates, the idea of the citizen-scientist, the role of new media as both information resource and research site for science. Emphasis will be placed on the two-way influence of theory and practice, as well as the challenges posed by the representation of specific types of scientific knowledge in specific media.
Term Two: Researching Science, Media and Public Policy in the 21st Century (delivered by Eric Jensen)
Across many domains of social and professional life, the sciences seek to influence publics through entertainment and news media, education, dialogue and debate. This module will identify the ways in which such attempts to influence or engage public perceptions of the sciences can be investigated through specific case studies. There have been particular flashpoints at the nexus of science, media and public policy in recent years. Controversies over human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, genetically modified crops, alternative medicine, the bioethics of zoos and the climate change agenda each hold important lessons for understanding the role of mass media, stakeholders and citizens in shaping public policy. These cases show how knowledge, power and legitimacy are marshalled in struggles for dominance and consensus over science in the public realm. A sociological account of these cases will be developed to critically assess the processes of public understanding and engagement with science, media coverage and science policy consultation.