iCons 2 (ICONS 289H) engages students in written and oral communication skill-building, emphasizing the different demands placed on scientists when we interact with scientists from our own discipline, other disciplines, younger students, and with the general public.

Students will develop the ability to create logical, articulate arguments, verbally and in writing, to scientists and non-scientists. This necessitates learning to listen and speak well with scientists from other fields, and to give and receive constructive criticism. Work on theme-based projects is produced both individually and in teams, helping each student build their own skill set while building on progress from iCons 1.

iCons 2 is offered in two themes: Renewable Energy and Biomedicine/Biosystems. Both courses begin with a "bootcamp" that develops skills through short projects and assignments. The second half of the semester is dedicated to larger team projects in which students synthesize their scientific, communication, and critique skills.

The lists below are meant to give a flavor for the kinds of study topics in iCons 2.

Renewable Energy

  • Biomass-fired Power Plants (from iCons 1)
  • UMass Power Plant Efficiencies (new)
  • Amherst Solar Energy Farm (new)
  • Fuel Cells and Soldier Power (new)
  • Nuclear Renaissance: Dead or Alive? (new)


  • Cholera in Haiti (from iCons 1)
  • Alzheimer’s (from iCons 1)
  • Autism and Vaccines (new)
  • Genetic Diseases (new)
  • Ecology and Climate Change (new)

Note: iCons 2 fullfills the Junior Year Writing requirement.

For further details, the Spring 2023 syllabi are attached:

iCons 2 Renewable Energy Syllabus: Spring 2023

iCons 2 Biomedicine/Biosystems Syllabus: Spring 2023