Representative topics include Forms of Journalism and Writing for the Web. May be repeated for credit with different content. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.
Dates: June 18 - July 13, 2018
Course Description: We write in order to share information, yes, but also to make meaning of our lives in connection with the myriad happenings around us—the web of life. In this nature-, medicine-, and science-based composition course, you’ll do just that: utilize writing to increase understanding—others’ and your own. The focus, for the most part, will be on sustainability—encompassing environmental concerns, medical practices, ecological literacy, and social connection. In the words of physicist and prolific writer, Fritjof Capra, the objective will be “to develop a conceptual framework that integrates the biological, cognitive, and social dimensions of life.” Through various forms of writing, you’ll learn to keep a close eye on detail, to recognize the wait—what? moments, and then translate those into writing that creates a desired cause-and-effect in your intended audience. You’ll gain insight into systematic understandings of life and learn to think in terms of patterns and networks. Readings will include: a nature memoir by renowned feminist and naturalist, Terry Tempest Williams; stories by clinical writer and famed neurologist, Oliver Sacks; and a variety of essays from The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015, in which editor Rebecca Skloot (author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the 2012 UVM incoming freshman read) writes: “People often think of science and writing as vastly different endeavors, but they’re very much the same. They’re both driven by curiosity, by noticing small moments—a single, unexpected piece of data in an experiment, a sentence someone says in passing, a tiny crack in a rock face—and taking time to see where those moments might lead, what larger stories they might uncover that can teach us about everything from the tiniest organism to the entire solar system.” Through imitation and the writing process, you’ll learn the craft of employing the written word not simply for education and comprehension but so that these sustainability-based narratives become touchstones to the deepest of human concerns and values—as well as action and hope for change. How did they do it? you’ll ponder, and then track scientific queries and pluck ideas from the rich pasture of nature and the environment. How does this impact the quality of life over time? What can I do? you’ll wonder as you explore sustainability and discover both solutions and recreation—through writing itself, as a sustaining tool and activity. Warning: Expect a lack of closure. This course content is sure to generate questions that will last a lifetime. Prepare for the journey. Trust the process.
Sustainability Learning Outcomes: To conduct and encourage informed conversations about the multiple dimensions and complexity of sustainability To evaluate sustainability using an evidence-based disciplinary approach and integrate economic, ecological, and social perspectives To think critically about sustainability across a diversity of cultural values and across multiple scales of relevance from local to global To recognize and assess, as members of society, how sustainability impacts your lives and how your actions impact sustainability Writing Learning Outcomes: To expose the truth To delight, persuade, and inform To explore personal depths of creativity To discover effective modes of exposition To engage the senses – especially your ears, eyes, and tongue To sharpen and perfect your unique writer’s voice To become your own best editor, an architect of revision To achieve confidence and mastery in the written word To develop true heart… … all through the act and art of writing.
Course Requirements and Grading Criteria: Online class attendance and participation (includes Peer Workshops and Discussion Board): 30% Weekly Writings, personal and reflective, persuasive and research-based: 20% Research Essay, 6-8 pages (including all process pieces, thinking and drafts): 20% Fieldnotes Journal (online): 20% Final Reflection and Analysis: 10%
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