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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.

As a future scientist, engineer, or researcher, you will be expected to write and speak clearly to audiences both within and outside of your field.  The purpose of this course is to teach you techniques for communicating analytically and argumentatively, to further develop your creative and critical thinking skills, to give you the opportunity to examine social and ethical issues in science, and to consider the relation of your field to other fields and the public at large.  As a way of tangibly pursuing all of these objectives, class members will participate in a service learning project in which they will tutor Boulder at-risk high school students in mathematics for a total of 15 hours during the course of the semester.   We will use this experience as a way to examine approaches to such subjects as the relationship between “doing” a field and teaching in it; sociological, political, and institutional factors shaping youth access to science education; and concepts surrounding numeracy and innumeracy.  This service experience will be used as one of our resources for the major assignments in the course, which include a 3-4 page rhetorical analysis of a scientific text, a 2-3 page visual analysis, a 5-7 page persuasive essay, and a 15 minute persuasive oral presentation.   In addition, you will write a number of shorter documents of various styles during the semester and we will analyze the characteristics of persuasive writing about science for a variety of audiences, through written and verbal examination of a broad spectrum of texts.  The course will also familiarize you with career documents used in your field and rhetorical strategies for professional oral presentations. Distinguishing features of this class include the relative latitude students are given in topic choice for their assignments and its regular, high-intensity interaction, through textual workshop and class discussion. 
This course asks the questions: How is science communicated in the public sphere and how is it used rhetorically in discussions about environmental, social, economic, and political issues? We’ll focus on representations of science in news media, in artistic/cultural works, in public policy, and in industry.

Most of the work in this course will be composed using professional genres (resumes, memos, reports, proposals), so we’ll consider how document design and visual rhetoric play a central role in effective communication."

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.
Dr. Naomi Rachel
There is a disconnect between what we know as fact in the sciences and the response from politicians and the public. We will explore many of these issues including vaccinations and global warming. There will be three major writing assignments and two oral presentations. Students will give news updates on topics of interest in the sciences and engineering. The focus will be on peer reviewed research and critical thinking. This is a discussion based class and work will be peer critiqued. In additional to research papers, the writing will include professional elements including memos and abstracts. All the reading appeared in “The Best American Science Writing” and will be available free on D2L.