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Indiana University Bloomington

Graduate Study

Coming Soon: New MA Track Science Literacy with History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine.

Science is an integral part of contemporary society, and scientific and technological advancements have shaped our society in many ways. However, scientific practice is growing increasingly more complex and multi-disciplinary; and scientific research is intricately intertwined with socio-political and societal issues. Scientists in the 21st century are thus facing unique methodological and ethical challenges. Scientific projects and practices are closely scrutinized both from within and from without. Scientists themselves are detecting “perverse incentives” and other signs of dysfunction within science, and questions about the reliability, robustness, and significance of scientific outcomes are raised from outside the scientific community. To respond to these trends, scientists are calling for methodological and cultural reforms of science, which include greater methodological rigor and improved science communication within science and effective engagement of broader publics.

A tension exists today between what the public expects from science and the ability of the scientists to deliver on this expectation while maintaining scientific integrity. Science is not perfect; uncertainties and errors are built into it, and yet, like democracy, it is the best system we have for navigating the motley array of events that surround and affect us. The ability to appreciate this tension, and eventually to ease it, is the primary objective of the Science Literarcy MA program. Indeed, we see this program filling a need that will become more evident and urgent as this century unfolds: Large scientific collaborations, networks, and communities will require embedded experts in scientific literacy to help them understand, explain, improve, and communicate their research methodologies. Those experts would gain their skills in our program.

The Program will target advanced baccalaureate students at IUB who are positioned to advance into a terminal Masters program as well as students who will go on to pursue a PhD in one of the sciences or a doctoral degree in medicine, law, public health, or policy. Because familiarity with “scientific processes and skills” is one of the requirements for Medical School applicants, graduates from this track will stand out among their peers. The main target audience for the program will be science students, but Media and Communication students as well as students in the humanities will also profit from the degree. The tools acquired during this MA track will be conducive to a successful career in a variety of positions outside academia, which require analytics skills, communication skills, and the appreciation of the interplay between scientific research and expertise and the socio-political and cultural challenges society faces in the 21st century. These careers include advisory roles in science policy and health care contexts, careers in science communication within science, science journalism (e.g. science news services or PR), administrative and coordinator positions in large scientific collaborations, and so on.