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 during our writing seminar, Professional Writing (PBIO/NR 333), 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 August 21 2015 04:27 PM