Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: BMB614319
Engaging Scientists with the Public
Course info
Course codeBMB614319
Course goals
After successful completion of this online course, the student can:
  1. Explain/analyze the complex relationship between science and society;
  2. Explain what science communication is, in particular in relation to public engagement;
  3. Assess activities of public engagement based on design, learning, behavioral and communication models;
  4. Develop a coherent and feasible plan for a public engagement activity for a complex societal problem;
  5. Pre-test and improve this plan based on a small pilot;
  6. Design the public engagement-plan in the form of a grant proposal;
  7. Interact successfully with a scientist and with relevant stakeholders;
  8. Pitch the grant proposal.
Period (from – till): This course is taught online: 13 November 2023 - 2 February 2024 (BMS_P2_A) and 22 April 2024 - 28 June 2024 (BMS_P4_A).

Course coordinator: Drs. Frans van Dam (|

Course description
Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit” says the Utrecht University’s public engagement website. In the past five to ten years, universities have started to value public engagement. Universities feel they should be open to society. Not as mere providers of knowledge but they should also actively involve citizens, school children and stakeholders in their research and higher education.
Public engagement has many forms, from science fairs, special apps to patient consultations or data gathering. Activities of public engagement are aimed at a large variety of audiences, including patient groups, homeless people, school children or wider audiences. Key is that both, the researcher and his/her audience benefit from the interaction. Examples of these activities can be found on the UU-website:

In this online course, you will design a public engagement activity. For that purpose, you will select a research topic in connection with a Utrecht University research group or a particular researcher of their choice. In the first weeks, you will deepen their understanding of the complex relationship between science and society, the roles of scientists and the audiences for public engagement activities. Starting in week 4, you start performing the analyses needed for designing and evaluating their public engagement activity with follow-up in weeks 5-7. At the end of the course, in week 8-10, each of you will finish your written plan for a public engagement activity and present it online.
All learning activities are supported through our online learning environment (ULearning). Here you have access to literature, informative videos and exercises. In week 4 and if needed later, online sessions (MS Teams) will be scheduled that you can attend voluntarily. 
Teamwork, (peer) feedback, and critical (self) reflection are key elements in this course.

Didactic approach
In this course, students develop a plan, based on theory, practical insights, and analyses. Peer feedback is a crucial aspect of the course, as giving and receiving feedback is a great help in improving the assignments. The weekly assignment will have to be finished on time to allow proper feedback.
This online course contains clips, reading materials, assignments, statements and reflections. In addition, students will be asked to contact a researcher and members of the audience they have selected. All of the weekly learning units can be carried out at home, using a computer and internet.
The lecturer is also moderator of the online course. He will assist the students and monitor the assignments and quality of the peer feedback.

You can register for this course via Osiris Student. More information about the registration procedure can be found here on the Students' site.

Mandatory for students in own Master’s programme:

Optional for students in other GSLS Master’s programme:

Prerequisite knowledge
Kies de Nederlandse taal