Design a site like this with
Get started

Inclusive History of Science Communication-A Lifeology Course

Some thoughts on drawing the course on An inclusive history of science communication

Argha Manna

Communicating science through cartoons and illustrations has its own narrative style. Despite having any strict manifesto, science cartoonists often use visual metaphors to represent complex scientific results, experimental data and interpretations. Those simple yet impactful metaphorical drawings make the science illustrations separate from the figures published in academic journals, making the complex scientific findings enjoyable to common people. Illustrations, cartoons, comics and other possible forms of visual storytelling have been securing their distinguished place in the field of science communication successively. But, there is no such standard model to represent the history of science through visuals, which I have been trying and experimenting to find out for the last couple of years. Drawing the course, ‘The inclusive history of science communication’ came to me as an opportunity to expand the horizon of my own experimentations.


This course consists of several layers like different models of communicating science, historical backgrounds of several scientific movements, communication of knowledge in indigenous societies, scientific controversies in the past and how those helped in building up different communication models. It has been written in the form of dialogue— conversation between four students from different countries and cultural backgrounds. Through their exchange of thoughts, the stories from the past are emerging out.

It was challenging a bit to accommodate all of the intertwined story elements and the characters in a continuous visual form. In the beginning, I struggled with the possible compositions for the illustrations. The most befitting visual form that came to my mind was the stage theatre. In a stage theatre, the characters build up the story through dialogue. The design of the stage and the props support their storytelling bringing the sense of a period, time, geography, location, history and other elements necessary for the narrative. I followed the same design model to illustrate the course.

Here, the characters have been shown in making dialogues and in the background, historical or scientific facts and concepts are flowing in visuals. The concept of stage theatre enabled me to keep the characters and their thoughts intertwined yet separated so that readers could perceive them as parallel narratives, connected but not interfering with each other. To keep the balance between science, science communication and historical fact I have used both the original representations of the historical documents like newspaper cuttings, book covers, scientific art from the past, and metaphorical drawings. 


Drawing the course titled was itself a learning process for me. The experimentation with the composition of the visual narrative was very satisfactory, but the most joyful part was I got the opportunity to learn about new cultures and their mode of expression. Two very important parts of the whole course are the storytelling culture adopted by aboriginal Australians and Griots from Africa through drawings and songs, respectively. I got the opportunity to look into various aboriginal Australian art forms, and I listened to the songs written by the modern-day Griots, blended with rap, pop and other popular forms of music. That part in the process of art-making I enjoyed most.

To read the full course please click here

Read the Blog on Lifeology site (Conference News, Sci Comm challenge, etc) Click here

Webinar on the course, PCST The Global Network for Science Communication, Click here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: