Cornell’s First Science Communication and Public Engagement Minor Graduates Tackle Health, Racial and Medical Issues
Benjamin Fields ’20 and Serena Stern ’20 wrote to The Sun with how the science communication and public engagement minor has helped them in their post-Cornell endeavors.
Nearly 1 in 3 Americans do not believe the actual coronavirus death toll is as high as its official count. Scholars have suggested that COVID-19 health literacy is a serious and underestimated problem, making the importance of communicating science more prevalent than ever.
The science communication and public engagement minor was designed for science, technology, engineering and math majors who want to break the divide between scientists and the general public by translating complicated science concepts into more digestible terms — something that is particularly pertinent to a global pandemic.
Benjamin Fields ’20 and Serena Stern ’20 were the first two graduates to receive the science communication and public engagement minor. After graduating from Cornell, the two are now applying the skills they learned from the minor to writing .
“It is important to be a great science communicator because if [you are] not, people’s biases and ignorance will rule the world,” Fields wrote in an email to The Sun. “This is exemplified in our handling of COVID-19, the climate crisis, and many other things. We need new scientific and innovative ways within science communication itself to defeat backward thinking.”
Fields just started his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in sociology and demography and is currently working on a book that describes the African American diet from a sociological and public health perspective.
He is also doing engagement work with the Black Economists Network based in the U.K., which aims to develop relationships that can funnel opportunities to Black economists by finding jobs, co-hosting events and conducting research reports.
Fields noted that he became interested in science communication because he wanted