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KOMEX Division of Science Interpreter Training Program

We define science interpreters as those who can reflect upon the significance of science and technology in society, and promote mutual communication and coexistence between wider society and the scientific community.

While science and technology has greatly enhanced the convenience of our daily lives, it has also led to a transformation of our social structures and lifestyles. Concerns on the appropriate use, interpretation and reliability of scientific knowledge are on the rise. Rapid progress has also made scientific information increasingly technical, widening the gap between scientists and the general public, while the lack of discourse and silo-ing between scientists of different disciplines are also being criticized. In light of such problems, the importance of engaging researchers in scientific outreach is becoming recognised, and the need to train individuals to act as a bridge between scientists and non-scientists.

People who take on such work are generally called 'science communicators', but here at KOMEX we call them 'science interpreters'. This is because our education and research emphasizes not only the ability to transmit information in an accessible manner, but also to develop independent interpretations with awareness of the relationship between science and society.

The term also reflects the main concept behind our program - 'what to communicate, how to communicate'. Most training programs for science communication often focus on the question of 'how', but the most unique feature of our program is that we take this one step further, to tackle the deeper question of 'what'. We train students to not just educate or trigger interest, but to stimulate the public to reflect and form an independent judgment on scientific information themselves. Moreover, while the objective of similar programs is to train professional science communicators, our objective is to give training to students as an addition to their specialist studies, such that they can go on to their respective sectors equipped with the science interpreter mindset described above. We believe that such a mindset is an essential part of a new form of cultural literacy, and beneficial in any area of society. With each graduate who goes on to work in a different field of work, we hope for this mindset to gradually penetrate throughout society, and so contribute to a society-wide shift towards the appropriate interpretation of science and technology.

This program is open as a sub-major to all graduate students from any department. In our classes we make use of our own textbook, 'Theories in Science Interpretation', which guides students through the global landscape and theoretical background on science communication. Our curriculum encourages students to analyze the concept of 'science in society' from a critical and multi-perspective approach, and includes a wide range of lectures and seminars on basic science and latest research trends, theories of science communication, verbal and non-verbal science communication, current policies in science and state of science education, the history and philosophy of science, media literacy, and more. We also incorporate discussions with science communication professionals both in and out of the university (e.g. journalists), as well as visits to science museums, TV and radio broadcast stations, community project sites, etc.

The range of the majors of students enrolled on the program is remarkably wide, ranging from the life sciences, environmental sciences, cognitive sciences, medicine, agricultural sciences and engineering to law, public policy, and the humanities. Career choices after graduation are also varied, including academia, public administration, the private sector, the media, and more. Despite the huge challenge of having a sub-major while coping with their specialist research and preparing for job-hunting, students on this course are highly motivated and responsive. The curriculum is designed and taught by various academic staff members, who also engage in publicity and collaboration efforts both in and out of the university. For example they contribute a regular column, 'The interpreter's bible', to the university newsletter, as well as participate in outreach to the public via newspapers and published materials. It is also not uncommon for our staff to take leading roles in internationally acclaimed conferences and meetings.

It is beyond doubt that an education that can investigate the relationship between science and society will become more important than ever in the coming years, We aim to fulfill societal expectations to be a pioneer in this field, and in future, we intend to expand our teaching to undergraduate students as well. As a division, we hope to not only to engage in student teaching, but also reinforce our ties with various entities and strengthen our role as a hub of internal, national and international academic activity in the realm of science communication.

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| Division of Advanced Education in Science | Science Interpreter Training |
| External Relations Division | Division for Active Learning and Teaching |
| Internationalization Division: Todai Liberal Arts Program| Division for Fresh-Year Education |
| NEDO Special Division  |

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