Communication of Science and Technology
The Communication of Science and Technology major (CSET) prepares students for some of the biggest challenges facing our society today—the effective communication of complex scientific ideas to the public. The CSET major draws upon the scientific, engineering, and communication resources of Vanderbilt University. The program is designed for students who want to take their interest in science and technology beyond the classroom and into larger world outside science, engineering, and medicine.
This unique major was invented by students in the early 2000s as an independent study major and grew into an interdisciplinary program, with a team of supportive faculty advisors from a wide variety of disciplines including History, Sociology, Cinema and Media Arts, Earth and Environmental Science, Physics, and Communication Studies to name a few.
The CSET major was recently revised making it a great choice for a second major. If you are already majoring in a science or engineering, you will automatically complete the core science/engineering requirements. Many students use their required science/engineering courses and electives to probe deeply into a single discipline. If you are not a science/engineering major, students have the option to broaden their knowledge by sampling a variety of disciplines. This flexibility provides students the opportunity for depth of knowledge in a single area, or a broader perspective across several areas of science and engineering.
Students must also take advanced courses in writing and public speaking and are encouraged to take courses in digital media production. These courses provide a broad, three-legged foundation of communication skills that are invaluable for students in any profession. To enhance their perspective, students must take a course that bridges the sciences with non-science issues (for example, selected Public Policy or Medicine, Health, and Society or Sociology courses), a statistics course, and a selection of electives.
Many of our majors are active members of a science or engineering research laboratory group. There they can combine their research experience with their newly acquired skills in science communication to participate in undergraduate research symposia, national meetings and conferences. Students can also participate in on-campus or off-campus directed study or an internship.
Recent on-campus projects have been done in collaboration with ARTLab, the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, the Vanderbilt Kidney Project, Vanderbilt LifeFlight, and with faculty-led projects in astronomy, biological sciences, chemistry, civil engineering, dermatology, engineering science, human genetics, nanoscience, pharmacology, and psychology. Internship opportunities include postings at Vanderbilt’s Communications Office or the Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization.
Recent graduates have gone on to pursue professional opportunities in presenting science in both written and visual formats in both the public and private sectors, while others have begun careers in consulting, public relations, pharmaceutical sales, information technology, advertising, and public service. Others have gone on to graduate and/or professional schools in law, medicine, dentistry, nursing, physical therapy, organizational leadership, public policy and public health.
CSET consists of twenty-five faculty members from a wide variety of academic backgrounds. All of our faculty have dual appointments in other departments and programs, contributing to the interdisciplinary nature of the major. Thus, many of our offerings are unique courses that explore the intersection of the sciences and humanities. In these small courses, students have the opportunity for individual instruction and collaborations. This allows faculty to build relationships with our students to better understand their needs and goals.