Sustainability science communication: New approaches

Course centent

The many sustainability problems we face (e.g. climate disruption, biodiversity crisis, the covid-19 pandemic) urgently require a new kind of interaction between science and society. This creates a need for new methods and collaborations inside and outside the standard mono-disciplinary setting of modern universities, and has significant implications for science communication. We cannot simply view science communication as a way of delivering the results of sustainability science to (what is being viewed as) a somewhat uneducated, uniform public. Rather, scientists should gather knowledge from many different academic disciplines and combine them with the valuable knowledge found within the civic population, even though these variations of knowledge are gained from outside the framework of formalised science. Recent research suggests that interdisciplinary and art-based methods can be a gateway to establish the needed new lines of communication between scientists, researchers and the public; thus these approaches to science communication are gaining traction among both science communication practitioners and researchers.

University researchers, including early career researchers such as PhD students, have an obligation to communicate their research to the public, ideally in ways that can help draw attention to and address global sustainability problems. This course tackles the challenge of engaging publics in sustainability science by offering an in-depth exploration of theories, methodologies, and practical examples of public engagement across academic disciplines. It engages the participants in co-creating concrete tools and operational knowledge, and supports them in developing their own methods and practices.

This course is for PhD students who research science communication as well as PhD students who are interested in developing their science communication practices. It will take place at the Department of Science Education as well as at professional science communication institutions: Medical Museion and Experimentarium. In this course, participants will learn about the potentials of interdisciplinary and art-based science communication when it comes to co-creating and disseminating sustainability science, participate in inclusive workshops with scientists and citizens, and design their own interdisciplinary, art-based science communication piece and/or event relevant to their research.


Course participants will meet twice during the course (three days + two days), and between these meetings, they will prepare and hand in a paper describing their own science communication product. The course is thus a mixture of independent research and synthesis, interactive lectures, co-creation workshops, group work and Master Classes.
• The co-creation workshops will include a diversity of participants from science and society. PhD students will engage openly with these participants, and actively participate in the co-creation of arts-based methods for sustainability communication.
• The Master Classes will involve PhD students presenting their five-pages papers (to be handed in prior to the Class) as well as their reflections about science communication. PhD students receive formative feedback on their own ideas from international experts as well as their peers, and engage in constructive discussions about the ideas of the other PhD students.



Active participation as well as handing in assignments on time and according to criteria



Participants in this course will
• acquire state of the art knowledge about sustainability science communication and co-creation processes
• develop skills to plan, implement and evaluate effective sustainability science communication events that use art-based methods
• gain competencies to critically examine instances of sustainability science communication by drawing on appropriate theories and methods
• gain competencies to communicate such assessment and analysis with precision and in terms relevant to the academic debate



Baden, D. (2019). Solution-focused stories are more effective than catastrophic stories in motivating pro-environmental intentions. Ecopsychology, 11(4), 254-263. doi: 10.1089/eco.2019.0023

Davies, S.R. (2022). Science Communication at a Time of Crisis: Emergency, Democracy, and Persuasion. Sustainability 14, 5103. doi: 10.3390/su14095103

Duncombe, S., & Harrebye, S. (2021). The Copenhagen Experiment: testing the effectiveness of creative vs. conventional forms of activism. Social Movement Studies, 1-25. doi: 10.1080/14742837.2021.1967125

Heinrichs, H. (2019). Strengthening Sensory Sustainability Science—Theoretical and Methodological Considerations. Sustainability, 11(3), 769.

Heras, M., Galafassi, D., Oteros-Rozas, E., Ravera, F., Berraquero-Díaz, L., & Ruiz-Mallén, I. (2021). Realising potentials for arts-based sustainability science. Sustainability Science, 16(6), 1875-1889. doi: 10.1007/s11625-021-01002-0

Moser, S. (2019). Tasks of climate change communication in the context of societal transformation. In G. Feola, H. Geoghegan & A. Arnall (Eds.), Climate and culture. Multidisciplinary perspectives on a warming world (pp. 141-167). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Verlie, B. (2022). Learning to live with climate change. From anxiety to transformation. Oxon: Routledge.













  • Workload: hours, incl. preparation, self-study, evaluation etc. (1 ECTS corresponds to approx. 25-28 working hours):

    Workload, hours, incl., preperation, self study, evaluation, etc.  

    125 hours:
    Read articles (30 hours)
    Write paper (20 hours)
    Read others’ papers and prepare feedback (10 hours)
    Participation (40 hours)
    Self-study and orientation in arts-based science communication (24 hours)
    Evaluation (1 hour).



• Read 10-12 research papers
• Write a five-page paper on reflections about arts-based sustainability science communication, citing at least 5 papers from the course literature, to be handed in no later than March 31
• Read and prepare feedback for peers’ five-page papers prior to April 28



PhD students must explore art-based sustainability communication pieces based on a list of suggestions as well as find their own examples based on their discipline and/or interests



Written evaluation form, Delphi evaluation and oral reflections


Registration is free of charge; participants are required to cover any and all costs pertaining to travel, room and board during the course.


Formal requirements

This course is for PhD students who research science communication as well as PhD students who are interested in developing their science communication practices.


NO LATER THAN December 15, 2022

For admission, write to Marianne Achiam (achiam [at] Your e-mail should include

  • Your name, institutional affiliation, and field of study
  • Your experience with science communication research and/or practice
  • A brief description (about 50-80 words) of why you are interested in taking this course
  • How far you are in your PhD


You will be informed of final acceptance January 10, 2023


University of Copenhagen, Niels Bohr Building, 2100 Copenhagen
Medical Museion, Brdegade 62, 1260 Copenhagen
Experimentarium, Tuborg Havnevej 7, 2900 Hellerup

February 20: 9-16
February 21: 9-16
February 22: 9-15

April 27: 9-16
April 28: 9-15