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Unique science communication course to be offered at BHSU this fall

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, August 11, 2020/Categories: Students, Academic Affairs, College of Business and Natural Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, Faculty, 2020

In a region with groundbreaking science research, Black Hills State University has capitalized on the strengths of its mass communication program and is now offering a unique emphasis in Science Communication, including a new course, MCOM 485/585: science writing. 

The Science Communication emphasis at BHSU merges science knowledge with mass media skills. From a unique combination of courses, students learn to effectively communicate scientific information to the general public. Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser, professor of fine arts and mass communication at BHSU, says, “In collaboration with Lead’s underground lab, BHSU has gained the authority to offer courses in science communication.”

This fall, MCOM 485/585: science writing will be an online class as an introduction to what science writing is. The course will follow a selection of texts and open discussions according to Dr. Caton-Rosser. Currently there is no prerequisite for the class, meaning any student no matter their course of study or prior courses taken can register for the class.

Caton-Rosser explains, “Over the course of the semester, students continue to discuss, journal, and also steadily work on an academic paper on a science topic of their choice in four draft phases.” She says the course will cover different styles of writing, such as writing for newspapers, newsletters, magazines, organizations, and science journals. Caton-Rosser adds, “In addition, we briefly explore the inclusion of visuals, as well as writing for video and audio.”

The profession of science communication is growing for multiple reasons, including increased interest and practicality. Caton-Rosser shares, “It’s important for the general public to understand how scientific research and results affect them directly, so they can better feel the impact, as well as support the activity of the research and understand it in terms that can be easily consumed by a non-scientist.” She goes on to explain that some practical reasons for taking this class include knowing how to write proposals to attain grant funding which is important to research studies.

Not only is this unique course offered for undergraduate studies, but the option for graduate study was added last year according to Caton-Rosser. Students that pursue this degree can go on to work as expert scientists while contributing to media on their specialty, or in a freelance or full-time job as a journalist, public relations specialist, broadcaster, blogger, or numerous other professions.

About Mass Communications at BHSU
Mass Communication students at Black Hills State University will explore visual design, photographic image-making, written, broadcast and web-based multimedia processes using the most advanced computer software, technologies and equipment in upgraded facilities. Students enjoy a high level of career placement upon graduation due to the high demand for knowledgeable and highly skilled professionals in the viable and growing Mass Communication job market.

A minor is required for Mass Communication majors. For more information visit or contact Caton-Rosser at or 605-642-6422.

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