A new science laboratory and a collaborative among faculty to bring the strengths of the College together to advance science communication are two initiatives underway that will serve to enhance Emerson’s strategic goal of academic excellence.
Construction of the College’s first science laboratory, to be located on the seventh floor of the Ansin Building, is expected to be completed in late February, and would be used by students and faculty from Emerson’s 17 science courses. It will be utilized for faculty research projects as well.
An artist's rendering of the science laboratory expected to open in Ansin in February. (Photo provided by Elizabeth Demski)
“I’m really excited about it. I think it’s great,” said Elizabeth Demski, associate vice president of research and creative scholarship. “It greatly improves our capacity to provide practical experience in conjunction with our teaching.”
Demski said there was a strong desire from faculty to enhance the learning of science and science communication at Emerson.
“The faculty really wanted this and felt it was necessary,” she said. “The most important thing about this is we can hold sciences classes in a lab, and do lab work in conjunction with the curriculum.”
Emerson is best known for educating students in communication and the arts, and its programs in Health Communication and Communication Disorders have always had a strong reputation. Emerson has recently committed to enhancing its liberal arts foothold under President Lee Pelton, who has outlined a priority for increasing academic excellence.
In addition to the several undergraduate science courses offered to meet general education requirements in the scientific perspective, the College offers undergraduate and graduate majors and minors in Communication Disorders, Health Communication, and Environmental Studies.
“A lab space means students can practice science, and faculty can engage in research in ways that hadn’t been possible before,” said Amy Vashlishan Murray, assistant professor of science in the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies. “This will greatly help me teach to the ‘science perspective’ at Emerson.”
Science Communication Collaborative
Vashlishan Murray is one of several faculty members from across academic disciplines who are participating in the Science Communication Collaborative at Emerson, which is an ongoing initiative to enhance teaching of science communication skills in the classroom.
The focus of the effort is on three elements: production of scientific content, dissemination of that content to the public and policymakers, and analysis of the consumption of those messages.
Participating faculty include: Vashlishan Murray; Wyatt Oswald, associate professor of environmental studies, Institute; environmental filmmaker Bob Nesson, faculty member, Visual and Media Arts (VMA); ecologist Jon Honea, assistant professor, Institute; environmental economist Nejem Raheem, assistant professor, Marketing Communication; Brooke Knight, associate professor and chair of VMA; and Ruth Grossman, assistant professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders. Amy Ansell, professor and dean of the Institute, has played a leadership role in forming the group.