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3030 - Writing on Science & Society Course Descriptions

The following list is alphabetical, by instructor's last name. Course offerings below are for the Spring 2015 semester. Check the current Course Schedule.

WRITING INSIDE/WRITING OUTSIDE: SCIENCE'S SHIFTING AUDIENCES, Amy Bertken
This course is focused on reading, composing, and analyzing scientific communications. The focus of our inquiry in particular will be on the overlap and divergence between writing directed to the professional scientific community and its relationship to writing about scientific concepts for “outsiders.” In your own writing, you will be asked to complete two portfolio assignments during the semester, echoing our attention to these “insider” and “outsider” groups. The first will be a series of short, rhetorical analyses of “science writing” directed to an audience of critical thinkers. The second portfolio will focus on scientific research, and will culminate in a journal-style article, and will be directed to an audience of your scientific peers.
SCIENCE, SUSTAINABILITY & COMMUNICATION, Dr. Rebecca Dickson
The United States has some of the lowest general scientific literacy numbers in the developed world, and many Americans reject clearly proven scientific facts. Yet American scientists, universities, and institutes are among the most respected by the global academic community. In this course, we’ll look at the ways scientists communicate, both as a means to improve our own communication skills and better understand how STEM majors can effectively convey their research and findings. We will be focusing especially on the ways scientists convey knowledge in regard to sustainability issues. Students will write four papers and do one presentation while reading weekly articles—peer-reviewed and popular press—on sustainability concerns.
THE RHETORIC OF SCIENCE, Dr. Orin Hargraves
The fruits of scientific investigation carry the authority of being verifiable and reproducible but their acceptance depends significantly on the willingness of people to adopt the same point of view towards nature, reality, and investigative methods that scientists themselves have. The fact that many segments of modern societies reject or question scientific facts points to a disconnect between the ethos of scientific culture and the populations to which it communicates its findings. At the interface of these two cultures is the scientist as communicator. In this course you will discover and develop competence in the genres of scientific communication that promote the advancement of the understanding of science. You will explore your own strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and develop skills that will help you recognize the needs of the various audiences of science that, when met, are most likely to promote clear understanding and acceptance of scientific developments and discoveries.
MAKING SCIENCE ACCESSIBLE, Daniel Long
This is a service-learning version of WRTG 3030. Students will practice communicating scientific knowledge by tutoring local high-school students. This course is a great opportunity for future scientists and engineers to gain real-world experience sharing what they know with others—and to help a few people along the way.

WRITING ON SCIENCE AND SOCIETY, Dr. Rolf Norgaard
Coming soon.
WRITING ON SCIENCE AND SOCIETY, Dr. Lonni Pearce
This section of WRTG 3030 focuses on analyzing and composing effective writing in relation to the broad topic of sustainability. While the term “sustainability” has been employed by various social and political groups in the U.S., its vague definitions and ubiquitous media presence often conceal contradictory agendas. In this course, we’ll analyze a variety of texts to investigate how rhetorical strategies both mask and reveal competing views about what it means to be “sustainable.”  Because much of the conversation around sustainability takes place in the genres of the workplace (resumes, memos, reports, proposals) and because many of you will be using these genres in your future careers, you’ll be practicing these genres throughout the semester. We’ll consider how document design and visual rhetoric play a central role in effective communication, and you’ll be expected to use principles of effective design in your writing.
WRITING ON SCIENCE AND SOCIETY, Dr. Naomi Rachel
Science as Narrative- Taking on the cluster busters.

I am not opposed to optimism , but I am fearful of the kind that comes from self delusion. -Dr. Martin Davis- NEJM writing about the “cure” for cancer.

My goal for this course is to enable students to read analytically and to write with clarity and focus. This class will teach you to write well in a variety of styles and to state and defend an argumentative thesis. An educated person must be able to read with in-depth comprehension and to be able to communicate complex ideas in economical and elegant prose. We will consider the ethical and social ramification of science policy and practice with “Toms River” by Dan Fagin as the main class text. It’s a great example of how to communicate complex scientific ideas to a general audience. We will also read works by Rachel Carson, Richard Preston, Bill McKibben, Dr Oliver Sacks and Dr. Atul Gawande. This class is taught as a writing workshop with peer critiques, revisions, and presentations. Since creativity is the most effective way to communicate, students will be designing a museum exhibit for a topic of their choice. Participation is an important part of the class experience. Students will write a minimum of five papers totaling 50 pages and give two presentations.

HOW DOES SCIENCE PERSUADE? Petger Schaberg
This section of Writing on Science and Society (WRTG 3030) will focus on developing the sophisticated rhetorical perspectives that will allow students to utilize a toolkit of strategies for the purpose of creating persuasive scientific writing for a range of important contemporary audiences. Selected readings from scientific journals, from the philosophy of science, from the politics of science, and from popular presentations of science in contemporary mass media will ground our investigation into the scientific method and supporting areas of observation, evidence, and experiment. Such an understanding is vital for practicing scientists, engineers, and corporate researchers, as well as for social scientists and those in humanities because of the complex ways that scientific thought makes its appeals to scientific audiences, to civic and policy-related audiences, to the business community, and to the broader target of popular culture. Upon fulfilling the course requirements, students will have developed an enhanced rhetorical awareness that will allow them to be skilful writers and interpreters both inside and outside the specific scientific disciplines that are so crucial to contemporary global society.

WRITING ON SCIENCE AND SOCIETY, Dr. Joshua Ware
Coming soon.
SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL, AND LAY ARGUMENT, Don Wilkerson
As a semester-long project, you will write ONE of the following: an essay on science, technology and public policy; a preliminary draft of an honors thesis; a post-UROP paper; a UROP, Capstone or other research proposal; an engineering or product licensing proposal; a curriculum reform proposal. You will choose a topic and genre, and then compile an annotated bibliography. Midway through the semester you will begin drafting your paper. At the end of the term, you will convert your paper into a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation. While you are doing preliminary research for your project, you will write a brief essay on ONE of the following topics: research ethics, professional ethics, creativity in science or engineering, truth in science, the social effects of technology. This essay will prepare you for your term project by teaching you how to define terms, clarify unstated assumptions, present evidence in support of an assertion and respond to likely objections.
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