From Science to Society


About this minor

Changing definitions of scientific success: what you should know as an ambitious student. Views on what should be considered a ‘successful’ scientist are changing. Scientists are expected to publish in top-journals and educate peers, and recently, to have ‘societal impact’. These criteria apply to all disciplines, but what does societal impact exactly mean? And why is it important for your career? This minor will guide you through the jungle to shape your scientific ambitions.

Traditionally, publications in prestigious scientific journals such as Nature and Science have been considered key for your career in science. However, the role of your ‘societal impact’ as a scientist is becoming increasingly important to assess your success. This minor will bring you up to speed in three key areas that help you understand how to impact society: science communication, open science and citizen science. Through inspirational lectures and interactive workshops, we discuss important characteristics that contribute to the ‘successes’ of research, and to understand what it actually means to have societal impact with your research. In parallel, you pick a project at the start of the minor that covers a pressing societal issue to work on with your peers such that you can directly apply and test your skills in a safe environment.
Open science is a movement that aims to combine and integrate perspectives, talents, and skills of various stakeholders to the design and conduct of studies. This will contribute to a transparent and open research culture as well as greater societal impact of research findings. Although this sounds brilliant, it also comes with challenges. How do we bring together the right people at the right place? How do we optimally utilise all those talents?

An equally important step to impact society with science is to effectively communicate your findings to society, and to engage with the public. How can we communicate our research findings to a wider audience other than sharing our results at scientific conferences and in research papers? And what does it take to do so properly?

This minor aligns your scientific ideas and ambitions with the current societal needs. After this course, you will understand why open science is nowadays key for your success and how to bring it into practice. You will also master the core principles of science communication.

Learning outcomes

After completing this minor, students will be able to apply the principles of open science, science communication and public engagement to boost societal impact of (their) scientific findings.
Students will more specifically be able to:

Introduction to open science and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)
• Understand the concepts of open science and RRI;
• Understand the changing dynamics in the academic system;
• Describe key issues that hamper reproducibility of research;
• Identify and prevent questionable research practices;
• Value the opportunities for open access publishing as well as having an open research process.

Fundamentals of science communication
• Differentiate between different communication channels such as scientific literature, social and traditional media, and know when to use what;
• Demonstrate differences between scientific and societal impact, and apply techniques to achieve societal impact;
• Translate scientific findings in an easy-to-understand language (e.g., social media, popular texts and videos);
• Reflect on their own skills and competences as a science communicator.

Citizen science and public engagement
• Understand the importance and role of public engagement in science;
• Engage different stakeholders in research using mixed-methods.

Good to know

This minor has a broadening character, and will be open for students from different faculties and universities to boost mutual learning and interdisciplinarity. This minor is focused on competence education, coaching, self-study and group work. It will generally follow the experiential educational principles of Project-based Problem Learning (PPL). In the first week, you will define your project, based on a societally relevant problem for which you need to define solutions that help bridging the gap between science and society. Within groups, you will work on a research proposal in which you place the problem in a broader context. You will also have the opportunity to engage with different stakeholders.

Teaching method and examination

Teaching methods
In the ‘plenary’ sessions all students will be educated to attain the learning objectives, using lectures, interactive working groups and flipping the class room techniques. These methods are supplemented by Project-based Problem learning, an experiential learning technique to acquire skills during the project in which students work together within small groups of 5-6 students. This experiential learning technique ensures that students acquire competencies as collaboration, leadership and communication, and can directly apply their gained skills.

Teaching materials
Lectures and workshops will be provided supported by educational material that will be shared on canvas. Projects can be done transdisciplinary, and can for example range from:

  • a critical view on the (science)
  • COVID19 communication strategy of the Dutch government (medicine/public health), to
  • the identification of barriers/facilitators of employing a basic income in Rotterdam (economics), to
  • a list with recommendations for policymakers to value ‘scientific success’ (philosophy).

For a project, students can also serve as consultants for established researchers to help them generating more societal impact (transdisciplinarity).

Method of examination
Individually, students will be assessed based on their demonstrated learning progress in their portfolio, scaffolding sheets, during competence-based educations and their own reflection. On a group level, students are graded based on their team collaboration and project output that also includes a presentation of the achieved work and potentially identified facilitators or barriers/challenges that still lie ahead. All students will receive a weighted grade based on their progress and group achievements.

Composition final grade
Individual assignments (reflection journal, participation interactive workshops and working groups): pass / no pass

Joint project grade, based on the scaffolding sheet (33%), end product (33%) and the final presentation (33%) Final grade based on pass / no pass at the individual level as well as the achievement as a group.

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Erasmus University.


  • Start date

    2 September 2024

    • Ends
      8 November 2024
    • Term *
      Block MINOR
    • Location
    • Instruction language
For guests, registration for this minor is handled by Erasmus University