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Science Journalism Workshop, Stellenbosch

A workshop, entitled 'Science meets the Media in Stellenbosch: How scientists and journalists can make a difference in the public understanding of science', will cover the relationship between the media and science and how scientists can communicate with the public.
Presented by the Department of Journalism, Stellenbosch University, in alliance with the Department of Science & Technology, SAASTA and the South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF), the intensive weeklong course will take place from 21-25 November 2011 at the university.

Course aims

  • Enable scientists and postgraduate science students to acquire communications skills they need to communicate their research through the media.
  • Provide knowledge and skills to work with a variety of media, including print, radio and television and the internet.
  • Promote accessible science writing skills and the popularisation of scientific knowledge by utilising the media effectively.
  • Train journalists in working with scientists.
  • Expose journalists to what they should know about science, explain how the scientific method works, how to understand uncertainty in science, how to deal with numbers and statistics and how to track and weigh potential science stories.

Course sections

The workshop will be divided into three sections:
  • Days 1 and 2 (21 and 22 November): Only for scientists
  • Day 3 (23 November): Scientists and journalists in a joint training session on how to bridge the gap between science and the media in the public understanding of science
  • Days 4 and 5 (24 and 25 November): Only for journalists


  • Dr. Marianne Freiberger, co-editor Plus Magazine, Cambridge University, UK
  • Christina Scott, experienced science editor and presenter of SAfm's Thursday evening science programme and second president of South African Science Journalists' Association (SASJA)
  • Prof. Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, palaeobiologist and science author, University of Cape Town.
  • Munyaradzi Makoni, science journalist
  • Dr. Pedro Diederichs, experienced journalist and editor of Custos, head of the Department of Journalism, Tshwane University of Technology
  • Dr. Jurie van den Heever, palaeontologist, Stellenbosch University, radio presenter and newspaper columnist on science
  • Mia Malan, Rhodes University's Discovery Health Journalism Centre and experienced science journalist
  • Prof. Lizette Rabe, head of the Department of Journalism, Stellenbosch University, former editor of SARIE magazine and author of Rykie - 'n lewe met woorde
  • Jorisna Bonthuys, award-winning environmental journalist and researcher at the WWF South Africa
  • Prof. George Claassen (course coordinator, convenor and chief presenter), science journalist, former science editor of Die Burger, first president of SASJA and lecturer in Science & Technology Journalism at Stellenbosch University, and author of 'Geloof, Bygeloof en Ander Wensdenkery: Perspektiewe of Ontdekkings en Irrasionaliteite'

Assistance for delegates

In order to make the course accessible to delegates who may not be able to afford the course, the organisers are offering:
  • 10 fellowships (full travel, accommodation and conference fees for three days, four nights) for PhD and postdoc researchers from previously disadvantaged communities
  • 30 further places available for scientists and researchers at course fees of R2 500
  • 15 fellowships (full travel, accommodation and conference fees for three days, four nights), available to aspiring science journalists from the South African media
  • 40 further places available for science journalists at course fees of R2 500
Brief motivations (250 words) must be emailed to Prof. George Claassen at by 21 October.

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