Contacts | Minor Program in Science Communication and Public Discourse | Program Requirements | Summary of Requirements | Advising and Grading

Minor Program in Science Communication and Public Discourse

The ability to engage the public in discourse around science issues is of increasing importance. The global challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change highlight the importance of science communication to shape public policy, mold behavior, and spark public awareness of and interest in science. The courses in the Science Communication and Public Discourse (SCPD) minor introduce students to the theory and practice of rhetorical methodologies and behavioral science of communication. Students will learn to build their work on sound scientific evidence and knowledge, to adjust messaging to their intended audience, to use clear and compelling language free of jargon, and to employ effective storytelling techniques and vivid examples. They will also be instructed in how to match their approach to different communicational modes and media (written, video, graphic illustration, podcast, exhibit, performance, and so on). Courses emphasize rhetorical and communicational practice. Embedded within SCPD courses is the opportunity for students to couple their understanding of communication to their own individual scientific interests as they produce a final blog, video, graphic illustration, podcast, performance, or exhibit.

The minor is open to students from all majors. 

Program Requirements

The Science Communication and Public Discourse minor requires a total of seven courses.

Science Communication and Public Engagement

All students must take PARR 13700 Science Communication and Public Engagement, which will cover the rhetorical theory around communicating science to a variety of public audiences.

Additional Science Communication Courses

Students are also required to take two of the following four courses:

  • SCPD 11100 Science Communication: Writing a Digital Science Story 
  • SCPD 11200 Science Communication: Producing a Science Video Story
  • SCPD 11300 Science Communication: Podcast (offered starting in academic year 2024)
  • SCPD 11400 Science Communication: Building a Science Exhibit (offered starting in academic year 2024)

Scientific Skills Course

Students must take one Scientific Skills course from the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division (BSCD), Physical Sciences Collegiate Division (PSCD), or Psychology. To count as such, the course may not be used to fulfill a general education requirement. In addition, a Scientific Skills course must have a number in the BSCD, PSCD, or Psychology. General education courses (e.g., PHSC courses) that are not being used to fulfill general education requirements are permitted. Test credit (e.g., Advanced Placement credit) is not permitted.

If a student is majoring or minoring in one of these areas, the Scientific Skills course requirement will be waived, and the student will complete a six-course minor.


Finally, students must complete at least three electives. Note that either of the two SCPD courses not used as a required course can serve as an elective. Other electives include:

CHDV 23100Human Language and Interaction100
MAAD 23930Documentary Production I100
MAAD 24550Evolution of Improvisation in Chicago100
MAAD 26059Media, Environment, and Risk100
PARR 13000Public Speaking: Theory and Practice100
PARR 21000Public Deliberation and Free Expression100
PSYC 25700The Psychology of Negotiation100
TAPS 22500Styles and Practice in Storytelling100
TAPS 23600Improv and Sketch100
TAPS 25910Short Form Digital Storytelling: Creating a Web Series100
TAPS 28320The Mind as Stage: Podcasting100
TAPS 28330Oral History & Podcasting100

Summary of Requirements

PARR 13700 Science Communication and Public Engagement 100
Two Additional Science Communication Courses200
One Scientific Skills Course100
Three Electives300
Total Units700

Advising and Grading

Courses in the minor may not be double-counted with the student's major(s), other minors, or general education requirements. Courses in the minor must be taken for quality grades. Only university-level courses offered by the University of Chicago may be approved to fulfill minor requirements; no other form of credit (including Advanced Placement) is allowed.

To declare the minor, students should contact the Program Director before the end of Spring Quarter of their third year. If the request is approved, the Program Director will submit a completed Consent to Complete a Minor Program form to the student's College adviser.


Undergraduate Primary Contact

Program Director
Peggy Mason

Administrative Contact

Program Administrator
Germaine Kindred