ducating future scientists these days calls for more than just academic training and laboratory experiments. Working in the field and interacting with the public as well as with members of other disciplines have become crucial skills for scientists who wish to find success in their chosen fields of inquiry. To this end, the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) in Costa Rica is adding communications to its curriculum.
OTS is known as one of the premier academic and research institutions for the tropical biology sciences. For decades, the OTS biological stations of La Selva, Las Cruces and Palo Verde have been attracting the bulk of scientific tourism to Costa Rica. La Selva and Las Cruces are located in the Caribbean region while Palo Verde is in the province of Guanacaste. For students of the biological sciences, an internship or course of study at OTS is a treasured item on their academic formation.
As recently reported by the National Geographic Society, the academic staff at OTS is preparing scientists in the intricate art of engaging the public and those who are not scientists. Just as the Costa Rica Star publishes articles of scientific interest to general audiences, scientists must be prepared to do so on their own. Writing for National Geographic , Neil Losin explains:
Being able to communicate to broad audiences is empowering to a scientist.
Doing outreach can also invigorate a scientist’s research.
OTS students are now learning skills such as blogging, podcasting and filmmaking to augment their careers. What OTS hopes is to prepare their students for a world in which they can bridge the gap between scientists and the public. Students are now producing engaging films, which you can watch here, that humanize the scientific process.
OTS is not the only institution adding communications to its academic curricula; EARTH University in Guanacaste has been doing this for some time as well. These two institutions are generating the bulk of scientific tourism to Costa Rica; and, with the growth of Internet communications and general interest in science, we can expect more scientific tourists to arrive for the purpose of honing their media skills.