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University System of Maryland

Strategic Communication for Sustainability Leaders

University System of Maryland via edX


Effective science communicators are in short supply during a time of unprecedented environmental challenges. As policy-makers, businesses, and communities seek solutions, the need for science communication skills will only grow. In this course, you will not only learn how to identify the tools of science communication, but will be able critique, refine, and develop them.

Any leader understands that data is the underpinning of competent decision-making. Complex systems require that data be presented in a clear and accessible format. You will learn to construct easy-to-interpret data visualizations that will enable you to build consensus and facilitate decisions across a broad spectrum of stakeholders.

Data tells us a story. Articulating and messaging this data-driven narrative to communicate the latest research is a key skill for any manager. You will learn to use proven techniques to develop such narratives so that you can effectively communicate complex data-sets to any audience.

Cogent science communication requires the effective integration of a captivating and accessible narrative with appealing multimedia data visualizations. These two new skills are the foundation for telling a larger story. Compelling “stories” are a proven approach to explain complex problems, involve the target audience, and motivate diverse stakeholders to work toward change.


Module 1:

  • Why is science communication important?
  • Iconic science communicators
  • The science behind science communication
  • What makes a good story?
  • Who are you talking to?
  • Narrative structure

Module 2:

  • Data Visualization Part 1
  • Data Visualization Part 2
  • 10 Classic Conceptual Diagrams
  • 10 IAN Conceptual Diagrams
  • 10 Classic maps

Module 3:

  • Storyboarding
  • Active titles
  • Storyboarding Process
  • Project Management
  • Seven Elements of Layout and Design
  • Layout and Design Examples
  • Critique and Review

Module 4:

  • Color Theory
  • Color Theory Basics
  • Color in Science Communication
  • Symbols and Diagrams
  • Symbols
  • Conceptual Diagram Creation
  • Conceptual Diagram Examples

Module 5:

  • Science Writing vs. Science Communication
  • Science Communication Products
  • Photos in Science Communication
  • Videos in Science Communication
  • Assembling a Scientific Presentation
  • Presentation Preparation
  • Delivering a Presentation

Taught by

William “Bill” Dennison and Richard Arnold


4.7 rating, based on 44 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Strategic Communication for Sustainability Leaders

  • Anonymous
    The course was good, and gave clear elements and objetives regarding key elements of Science Communication.
  • Anonymous
    I enjoyed this course on science communication with a lot of examples for best practice. The lesson videos are short (rarely longer than 10 min) and on point. Learners are encouraged to engage with different materials and resources.
    However, the discussion activities are not very useful, as there are rarely participants answering to posts by their peers. I think it's a nice idea to exchange thoughts with other participants, but I'm afraid there are just too many taking this course, so it doesn't work out.
  • Profile image for Sigit Ricahyono
    Sigit Ricahyono
    My background is in Linguistics, especially Discourse Analysis, Multimodal Discourse Analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis, Cultural Discourse Analysis, and Intercultural Communication. I love Linguistics when it can contribute in the real function of language, the means of communication. My knowledge especially Multimodal Discourse Analysis improves a lot after finishing this course.
  • Anonymous
    It is a good course to help develop communication skills in the sustainability sector. The knowledge assessments always provided good feedback to test the knowledge I recently just gained. Overall the course has helped me grow my knowledge and skills in creating visuals, using story telling tools, and skills to effectively communicate science across a broad audience.
  • Anonymous
    Well taught, was clear concise and eye opening on communication methods. I learned a lot, even though I have been writing and presenting papers for many years, there is much I know I can now improve on, particularly the use of color and graphics.
  • Anonymous
    It's a good informative course, that I have already used lesson from in my profession, and is a plethora of resources which may be the most important thing about it.
  • Anonymous
    I really liked the course.

    The course showed that there is always an opportunity to learn something new and useful.

    The course has a simple and easy-to-follow design. I had no difficulties following the activities.

    The instructions are simple and clear.

    The Website is also easy to navigate and very friendly.

    Videos can be improved and not be so monotonous.

    However, the content presented is especially useful, easy to learn, and to apply in my academic life.

    I was able to learn many things that I did not know.

    I hope in the future to take another course again.

    Thank you.
  • Anonymous
    I enjoyed learning the course. I got a broader aspect of how to present science effectively in order to reach the right and wider audience. I realised the fact of quantifying a concept in a visually presentable manner to the viewers. I was able to appreciate the organised way of presenting science topics and it was insightful to know about the different ways of presenting a science topic and use of various tools facilitating a good product output. Thank you and Gratitude. Lakshmi, Entrepreuner working in the field of sustainability, India
  • Anonymous
    I quite liked the course, it is relevant to me because the industry I am associated with has major Environmental impact. Using science communication effectively can help convey the right messages to all the relevant stakeholders.

    The course is well laid out and easy to follow.

    I have certainly picked up some new learning's like use of storyboarding, importance of photos, Colour theory to name of few.

    Really liked the part on assembling and delivering presentations because that is the most relevant for me!
  • Anonymous
    This has been a very holistic course on how to create great science communication products. Even if you are a top scientist, a beginner on this career, a communications profesional or a university student, we can all easily understand all the 5 modules and we can get great inputs for our interests even if our focuses are different.

    I would highly recomend this course to anyone who needs to lead, create or just learn about science communication products.
  • Anonymous
    Very basic course, except for some useful ideas in the first module. The content is hardly correlates with the name of the course Strategic Communication for Sustainability Leaders: not much of actually strategic communication and sustainability is only considered from the environmental point of view. The lectures are provided only by one speaker and the quality of the audio is average. I'm glad that I did not spend $150 to be "verified".
  • Anonymous
    I completed this course in October 2021 and was very pleased with the ease of navigation, flexibility of when to complete tasks, and with the overall course content and presentation. Would recommend. As a reasonably seasoned presenter, this course still provided more insight on what to look for and how to be prepared to either produce science communication products or to present them, or both. A sincere thank you to all involved.
  • Anonymous
    The course was extremely useful. The content and the sessions where up to the mark. I could corelate it and add value. I have nothing to praise for how the sessions were run especially with the tutors. Each chapter of the workshop, everything was explained in detail and their experiences and that was awesome. I found that new understanding about the skills being imparted. I m sure it till take me a long way in my professional arena.
  • Anonymous
    I had the pleasure of being part of the beta test group for this course and really enjoyed learning about an aspect of science that I was less familiar with. While I have a background in science, my professional trajectory led me to move over to the...
  • Anonymous
    The course was very comprehensive and easy to understand. The instructors made sure that they are giving the information in a way that won't make me confused. Thank you so much for this great course!

    A detailed review of one of the most important skills in academic research: information seeking. In particular, I enjoyed the tutorials on Mendeley and reference management tools. Highly recommended!

  • Anonymous
    This course did a great job of providing actionable strategies one can take to improve their science communication. It also provided plenty of examples as guides. The only critique is that at times, the activity associated with each lesson was a simple poll, that I did not feel contribute much to the learning experience. Otherwise, it's worth it if you can get your school or employer to pay for it.
  • Anonymous
    I loved this course.

    There was a lot of new content for me, but it was presented in a clear and easy to follow way.

    The practical activities at the end of each module were really helpful to internalize the information.

    A lot of great additional material is offered to continue learning, plus there is access to some of the university work and library.

  • Anonymous
    It was a really good course, but too many example of Chesapeake Bay. If you take it after reading this review, please make a count how often Chesapeake Bay is mentioned and share it in your review :).
    It is a good mix of videos, polls, discussions, multiple choice questions etc. and high quality.
    Last but not least extremely relevant topic!
  • Anonymous
    The course was very good, I liked the videos with the content and the activities are given after. The course was engaging and easy. However, I had hoped the course would have more technical lessons so that I could be a science communicator. I hoped that that module of Project management would have been more in-depth and technical.
  • Anonymous
    The course was very good. I really enjoyed this course. This course showed there are lots of opportunities to learn something new and helpful to get. I was able to learn science communication that I did not know, but I couldn't follow on dates because of my own life style. I hope in the future to take another course again. Thank you.

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