Mind the Science Gap is a science blog with a difference.  For ten weeks each semester, Masters of Public Health students from the University of Michigan will be posting weekly articles as they learn how to translate complex science into something a broad audience can understand and appreciate.

Each week, ten students will take a recent scientific publication or emerging area of scientific interest, and write a post on it that is aimed at a non expert and non technical audience.  As the ten weeks progress, they will be encouraged to develop their own area of focus and their own style.

And they will be evaluated in the most brutal way possible – by the audience they are writing for!  As this is a public initiative, comments and critiques on each post will be encouraged, and author responses expected.  The posts are not vetted or reviewed before they are published – each student is responsible for his or her own work, and the response it attracts.  In this way, they learn fast how to develop their pieces from solid evidence and present them in a defensible way, while engaging with their audience.

Because of this, some posts will appear awkward, naive, or even mis-informed.  This is an opportunity to engage with the authors and help them improve – learning through errors and mis-steps is a powerful way to learn fast and learn effectively.

Mind The Science Gap is not a course on science blogging.  Rather, it is about teaching public health graduate students how to convey complex information effectively to a non-expert audience, using the medium of a science blog.  It’s not designed to churn out the next generation of science bloggers (although that wouldn’t be a bad thing).  Instead, it is designed to help ensure that UM School of Public Health graduates are some of the best communicators around when it comes to translating scientific evidence into something that others understand, and can act on.

Please support the initiative by reading them, spreading the word, and most importantly, commenting and providing feedback!

About the Instructor.  Andrew Maynard is Director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center, and Chair of the UM Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health.  He writes a regular blog on emerging technologies and societal implications at 2020science.org.

Mind The Science Gap represents the views of the contributing authors – it does not necessarily represent the views of the course instructor, or the University of Michigan School of Public Health. As this is a learning environment, the accuracy of the posts cannot be guaranteed.  Where there are inaccuracies, readers are encouraged to engage with the authors on addressing them through the post comments.

(Updated Feb 24 2013)