University of Vermont


Writing Across the Curriculum

The Portfolio

Over the course of four semesters, Field Naturalists and Ecological Planners produce a spectrum of writing that serves them in the field, in the classroom, in their own academic reflections, and in their professions. We call it The Portfolio. Its 12 elements include:

  • Journaling/Field Journaling
  • Free Writing/Critical Reflection
  • Grant/Fellowship Writing
  • Site Reviews
  • Project Proposals
  • Professional Reports/Project Deliverables
  • Technical/Scientific Paper Authorship
  • Web Content/Blogging/New Media
  • Newsletter Writing, Editing and Production
  • News Releases and Media Campaigns
  • Persuasive Writing
  • Popular Non-Fiction: Journalism, Features and Essays

No scientist succeeds without the force of the written word. For a Field Naturalist or Ecological Planner, writing is a tool no less vital than a map or hand lens. In our Writing Program, we bring observations and ideas from field to page. Our foundation is "The Portfolio" – a suite of writing each student completes before graduation. Students generate The Portfolio from graduate coursework and related writing instruction and assignments over the course of four semesters.

Our writing curriculum begins with the essentials for descriptive, intelligent, persuasive writing. These include: exuberance for the subject, discovering detail outside, discipline at the keyboard, effective language and grammar, wisdom beyond the obvious and the courage to break a few rules now and then. In our writing seminars, students read, write, discuss and edit great and lousy prose.

Beyond the essentials, the curriculum travels a determined path of professional writing – communications skills that help students wins grants, for example, or move the public to act. We write about bedrock geology and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. We write news releases, literature reviews, opinion essays and feature-length non-fiction. We write to understand, think, inform, persuade, celebrate. And we write to succeed.

Last modified October 28 2013 12:16 PM