Brandeis University

    UWS 51A: Professional Writing in the Sciences

    Instructor: Allison Middleton
    Prerequisites: None. UWS introduces students to the power of writing as a means of communication and a process of thinking and understanding. As students complete a series of writing assignments, they will engage in a process of reading, drafting, reviewing and revising, working in peer groups and individually with their instructors.
    Course Description: According to Charles Darwin, “A naturalist’s life would be a happy one if [they] had only to observe and never to write.” Unfortunately (or fortunately!), much of a naturalist’s practice involves writing. In fact, the same holds true for those in other scientific fields—scientists must not only do science, but they, too, must write science. But what exactly are professional scientists writing? What motivates their composing and to whom do they write? What rhetorical choices do scientists make when communicating complex information? In this course, we’ll examine the discursive and generic requirements scientists face when composing in different contexts for different audiences. By considering a number of professional scientific genres—including research articles, grant applications, poster presentations, and public talks—we will explore questions of accessibility, writerly agency, persuasion, and objectivity. For the first of two essays, you will draw on insights from a lens text to arrive at a deeper understanding of COVID-19 vaccination behaviors in the global sphere. In particular, you will be challenged to use a vaccine hesitancy model or public health theory to interpret recent data about global COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and acceptance in low- and middle-income countries. This assignment is designed mimic the process that scientists use to highlight the applicability/significance of their work. In other words, you will need to close read/synthesize the data, while providing evidence and analysis to justify your interpretation of it. For the second essay, a research essay, you will embrace your inner scientific curiosities by examining a semi-recent innovation, idea, or theory and crafting an argument about the societal impact the innovation, idea, or theory has had. This assignment is designed to allow you to explore the complexities of science and society by: 1) Discovering information about an innovation, idea, or theory that interests you; 2) Crafting a researchable question to focus your examination; 3) Persuading an academic audience to either believe your position, take an action, and/or rethink their current perspective.
    Session: Session I
    Day: T, W, Th
    Time: 11:10am - 1:40pm
    Credit Hours: 4 Credits
    Course Format: "Remote Learning" Course for Summer 2022
    Brandeis Graduation Requirement Fulfilled: UWS
    Enrollment Limit: 10 students
    Course Classification: Undergraduate Level Course
    Course Tuition: $3,290
    Course Fees: None
    Open to High School Students: No