ISSuES certificate experience central to student’s career ambitions and future

While I made valuable memories and explored a variety of subjects over the course of my academic career in Madison, my certificate experience undeniably pointed me in the direction of my future. Focusing in ethics, I completed the certificate in Integrated Studies in Science, Engineering, and Society (ISSuES) with a newfound respect for the intricacies of science communication. The manner in which scientists relay information to the media and consequently to the public is increasingly important due our society’s constant news cycle.

Unfortunately, proper communication methods for distributing scientific knowledge are vastly underutilized. This allows for the spread of misinformation such as vaccination being linked to autism or the disbelief in evolution.

My first ISSuES course was an involved study of Midwestern geography. It built a solid base for environmental appreciation after my brief freshman year foray into math and engineering. I then committed to the program by enrolling in the cornerstone course of the certificate, “Where Science Meets Society,” which was truly eye-opening. I was involved in the sciences in previous semesters as a genetics major, but this course presented science in the abstract in order to dissect public moral issues. It was an entirely different way of thinking for me, and the course became a turning point in my college career. From there, I couldn’t help but take a philosophy course centered on a multitude of present-day controversies. I then rounded out my ISSuES credits with a provoking community and environmental sociology course that engaged both the literary and science worlds.

During my final summer as an undergraduate student at UW, I worked as an Environmental Education Intern at the Madison Children’s Museum. With the help of my generous and willing faculty mentor, I used my internship experience to analyze the benefits of informal science learning settings for children and adults alike. In doing so, I fulfilled my certificate capstone requirement. This certificate not only allowed me to focus on the relationship between science and the public, but it also honed my writing skills more than any typical science coursework could have.

This certificate not only allowed me to focus on the relationship between science and the public, but it also honed my writing skills more than any typical science coursework could have.

Throughout my ISSuES certificate experience, my advisor was genuinely interested in my studies and curious about what I was hoping to achieve through completion of the program. My goals and aspirations became more concrete with each course I took. The certificate had enough structure to keep me on track, yet allowed the freedom to personalize my studies and branch out in unimaginable ways. I now explain to my peers in the professional world that while I will always be fascinated by genetics, my true career passions lie within my certificate, not my major. My current project in disseminating popular science information is a blog aimed at the lay man. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing it, and I am certain the idea would never have come to fruition without my completion of the ISSuES certificate.

As I look over the course offerings today, I can already tell how much the certificate program has grown. It makes me want to return to Madison to take more ISSuES courses! I am forever thankful I pursued this certificate, as it has become central to my career ambitions and my future. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Integrated Studies in Science, Engineering, and Society Undergraduate Certificate Program (ISSuES) Information


Casey Jane Nelson is a 2017 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and a Certificate in Integrated Studies in Science, Engineering, and Society. She believes that the field of science communication is incredibly underrepresented and hopes that her blog makes baby steps towards a greater understanding and support of science. Nelson values logic, open-mindedness, and good conversation. She is also an avid sports fan, music lover, foodie, and skier who likes to relax with puzzles, reading, dark chocolate, and my family and friends.

She Blinded Me With Science Blog:

Twitter: @CaseyJaneNelson