Students are required to research and give an oral presentation on a topic of their choice within the field of sustainability. These presentations are intended to further explore topics within green and sustainable science. In addition to the presentation, students are required to compile a case study revolving around their topic. Students may choose to address the implications of their topic in terms of history of methodology and development of techniques, identification of a problem, implications for influencing policy, importance of the development of a particular field of science, future areas of research, etc.
The purpose of these presentations is to enhance the student's ability to communicate within the sciences. Effective communication of scientific material is paramount to advancing in the field. Regardless of whatever students choose to do with their science degree, be it work in private industry, partake in basic research, become a science professional, or choose to be a science educator, if they cannot effectively communicate scientific and technical topics, they will fail to do their job correctly.
Current statistics state that 84% of US scientists believe the average American citizen fails to understand scientific concepts, current scientific findings, and the implications of such findings, while 85% of American citizens hold the study of science in “high esteem”. However, 2/3rds of citizens failed a scientific literacy test to assess how well citizens understood how science was accomplished. Additionally more than 50% of citizens failed to understand the statistics of scientific findings and technological literacy (see this NSF study for details).
Realizing this disconnect in scientific understanding, it becomes very important for students of science working towards a career in science AND as citizens themselves, to work on encouraging effective communication of science. Developing effective communication skills will help students become a respected leader in their field and will also help to encourage a global sea of change in the way scientific advancements are portrayed. This will ultimately help to influence effective policy, industry, funding, and perspectives of science.