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Friday, September 22, 2023
Life Sciences Communication Building

STEM Major Spotlight: Life Sciences Communication

It’s a path for those who want to take every route.


Have you ever felt out of place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison? Or overwhelmed by your interests and the school’s never-ending wealth of opportunities? If you’re thinking “yes, those feelings are painfully familiar” — you’re not alone. 

When I first stepped foot on campus for my freshman orientation, I was overwhelmed with uncertainty. I wanted to immerse myself in a research paper, learning the ins and outs of living organisms. I also wanted to get out of my head and into the world, capturing emotions with my camera. That’s not to mention the hundreds of clubs I wanted to join. 

When I expressed my dilemma to my advisor in one exasperated breath ending with, “so maybe I should aim for three majors in three years,” she looked at me like I lost my mind. Then, with a knowing smile, she asked, “Have you heard of LSC?” 

I remember thinking the acronym sounded intense, but I had no idea what it meant. I soon learned that “LSC” stood for Life Sciences Communication, a Bachelor of Science program that stands for much more. 

Requiring only 24 credits, LSC is a multifaceted student’s dream. It encourages you to fill your time with other opportunities, from double majoring to participating in an internship. In addition, the major itself leaves room for academic freedom. Half of the required coursework is self-selected, allowing you to personalize your studies. 

The major also offers two concentrations — communication strategy and communication skills and technologies. But no matter which path you choose, you’re guaranteed the “best of both worlds,” according to Student Services Assistant Emma Hinker. 

“Within our major, you’re getting the strategic side of communication, the big picture ideas, but you’re also able to learn hands-on skills in your area too,” she said.

Junior Britta Wellenstein exemplifies the range of possibilities within LSC. Double majoring in LSC and Environmental Studies, she also works as a Communications Intern at the Wisconsin Energy Institute. 

“I like the interdisciplinary aspect of LSC,” Wellenstien said. “I also looked at studying in the journalism school, which had options, but I felt like I couldn’t explore them as much.” 

In the Department of LSC, students are pushed to explore the world around them. They’re called to consider multiple perspectives, a skill emphasized in an introductory course titled LSC 251: Science, Media and Society. Professor Dietram Scheufele guides students through looking at controversial media, understanding its intricacies and communicating scientific truths. Unlike some introductory courses that serve as an easy “A,” the lessons learned in LSC 251 stick with students throughout their education. 

“This major has taught me to really listen to people, and to try to understand everyone’s perspectives and look at things from different points of view,” Wellenstein said. 

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LSC is a melting pot of ideas and backgrounds, and through the diversity the major brings, you can feel a sense of unity. I, and many other LSC students, appreciate the wide variety of identities among people in our courses. 

“In one of my classes, there was a football player and a group of farmers who often talked about dairy expos and stuff,” Wellenstein said. “Me and another Environmental Studies girl were just sitting there listening, thinking ‘This is so interesting.’” 

Hinker echoed these statements, noting “I genuinely don’t think there is an ideal LSC student. That being said, everyone in the major shares a passion for science communication. They care and they want to communicate with the public in a variety of different ways”. 

So, as an LSC student with the opportunity to communicate with you today, let me give you my unique perspective and answer the question I’ve heard a million times: What even is LSC? To be factual, “LSC” stands for Life Sciences Communication. But the major itself also stands for exploration, community and truth. 

We may be small and often unheard of, but we will go on to make a big difference in the world. LSC has taught me that diversity is something to embrace and given me the skills to succeed in all the new experiences I may try. Next time you find yourself feeling uncertain, staring at the course catalog, consider leaning into the unknown and trying LSC. 

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