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860-0017-00L  Argumentation and Science Communication

SemesterSpring Semester 2016
LecturersA. Wenger, C. J. Baumberger, M. Dunn Cavelty, G. Hirsch Hadorn, U. Jasper, R. Knutti
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentNumber of participants limited to 10.

MSc students, PhD students and postdocs with a science and technology background have priority.



Catalogue data

AbstractAnalyzing and communicating the aims and ethical implications of scientific research is an essential element at the intersection of science, technology and policy making. This course is split into two modules which focus (1) on arguing about ethical aspects and scientific uncertainties of policies, and (2) on communicating scientific results to policy-makers and the wider public.
ObjectiveStudents learn to consider uncertainties in inferences from computer simulation results to real-world policy problems and acquire an understanding of ethical positions and arguments concerning values, justice and risks related to policies. They learn how to analyze the particular prerequisites for the successful dissemination of scientific results to policy-makers and the wider public.
ContentAnalyzing and communicating the aims and ethical implications of scientific research is an essential element at the intersection of science, technology and policy making. In the first module of this course, we will provide a framework for considering uncertainties in inferences from computer simulation results to real-world policy problems. Moreover, we will introduce and discuss ethical positions and arguments concerning values, justice and risks related to policies. Subsequently, we will learn how to clarify concepts as well as how to identify, reconstruct and evaluate arguments and complex argumentations. In the second module, we will analyze the particular prerequisites for the successful dissemination of scientific results to policy-makers and the wider public. To get a better understanding of the expectations and needs of different target groups we will invite guest speakers and professionals from both the media and the policy world to share their experiences and discuss common problems. The final part of this course consists of practical applications and exercises. Proceeding in a 'draft/revise/submit'-manner, students will have to present a scientific project (possibly linked to a case study) in two different formats (e.g. newspaper contribution and policy brief). Faculty will supervise the writing process and provide reviews and comments on drafts (in collaboration with ETHZ Hochschulkommunikation and the Language Center).
Schedule:
W1: Introduction
W2: Computer models and simulations: How do we learn about real-world problems by models and computer simulations? What can we infer from their results for policy advice?
W3: Values: What are the implications of basic distinctions in value theory such as intrinsic vs extrinsic/instrumental values, anthropocentric vs non-anthropocentric values, and value monism vs value pluralism for policy assessments?
W4: Justice: What are the ethical arguments for and against different conceptions of intra- and intergenerational justice, such as egalitarianism, grandfathering, polluter or beneficiary pays principle, and capability approaches?
W5: Risks: What are permissible risks from the perspective of different ethical theories, such as utilitarianism, contractualism, deontological and right-based theories?
W6: Concepts and arguments: Clarification of ambiguous and vague concepts, identification and reconstruction of arguments, types of theoretical and practical arguments
W7: Concepts and arguments: Criteria for good arguments, typical fallacies, use of arguments in discussions
W8: The science of science communication: Basic insights from communication theory
W9: Different Audiences, Different Formats: What are the particular prerequisites for the successful dissemination of scientific results to policy-makers? What are the writing and presentation skills needed?
W10: What are the particular prerequisites for communicating with the wider public? The dos and don'ts of media interaction. What are the benefits and challenges of social media?
W11: Study week: Students work on their two 'praxis projects' and submit two drafts.
W12: Supervision and Revision
W13: Supervision and Revision
W14: Wrap-up: Effectively communicating science-related topics and their political and ethical implications to a non-expert audience.
Lecture notesPapers are made available for the participants of this course.
LiteraturePapers are made available for the participants of this course.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe total number of students is 10. MSc students, PhD students and postdocs with a science and technology background have priority; weekly meetings of 3 hours during FS 2016, 6 ETCS (39 contact hours + 141 hours for preparations and exercises); grading based on the exercises on a 1-6 point scale, the parts contribute in the following way: argumentation 50%, science communication 50%.

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits6 credits
ExaminersA. Wenger, C. J. Baumberger, M. Dunn Cavelty, G. Hirsch Hadorn, U. Jasper, R. Knutti, J. Moernaut
Typegraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition only possible after re-enrolling for the course unit.

Learning materials

No public learning materials available.
Only public learning materials are listed.

Courses

NumberTitleHoursLecturers
860-0017-00 GArgumentation and Science Communication Special students and auditors need a special permission from the lecturers.3 hrs
Thu13-16UNO B 11 »
A. Wenger, C. J. Baumberger, M. Dunn Cavelty, G. Hirsch Hadorn, U. Jasper, R. Knutti

Groups

No information on groups available.

Restrictions

General : Special students and auditors need a special permission from the lecturers
Places10 at the most
Waiting listuntil 22.02.2016

Offered in

ProgrammeSectionType
Architecture MasterMajor CoursesWInformation
Doctoral Department of Humanities, Social and Political SciencesDoctoral and Post-Doctoral CoursesWInformation
Science, Technology, and Policy MasterCore CoursesWInformation