To be completely honest, I initially signed up for this class in order to fill an elective credit. At the time I wanted to find something related to my major and figured that this class would be a typical environmental studies/public health course. On the eve of the final class session, I am thrilled to have been completely wrong in my initial assessment of this class.
As a neuroscience major and a pre-medical student, the vast majority of my classes deal in numbers and facts. All of these classes are geared toward determining why something, be it an organ, chemical reaction, etc, works in the way that it does or why is does not act in another way. And while I really love these classes, they often lack an important element: how all of these microscopic reactions and processes impact everyday people. I distinctly recall the lecture discussing the biological versus social perspectives on health communication and at first being incredibly frustrated by the critiques of the biological perspective. As the class continued, however, and particularly as real-world examples were incorporated into the lecture, I began to see the abyss forming between individuals in the medical field and those who enter the world as patients or relatives of patients.
My “epiphanies” into the massive communication gaps in our society have continued as we moved into science communication as well as environmental. What is interesting is that I can no longer classify this gap as a gap between “experts” and people who are ignorant. This gap does not exist because people who are not in STEM fields are stupid; I believe it occurs as a result of many factors, notably a failure by those on both sides to communicate.
Leaving this class, I believe that I have a far greater understanding of the need for communication in the fields of health, scientific, and environmental study and how I can be involved in ameliorating this gap both as a student and as a citizen of the global society.