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WRTG 3030 Writing on Science and Society: Topics in Writing


Dr. Harrison Carpenter



“People simplify. Our job as science communicators is to help them simplify appropriately.” — Ed Maibach

Science and technology are more than just professional specialties. They influence so much in the daily lives of everyone in our society that writers of all stripes are making efforts to help their readers understand, connect with, and value science and technology. These concepts will be discussed and applied within a range of writing formats and discussion threads.  Like all writing courses at CU-Boulder, this course is conducted in a workshop format, in which you will provide ongoing peer review of the writing produced by your colleagues in the course.  There is ample research to support the value of ongoing revision in the writing process, and revision as a requirement is built in to every stage of the writing process.

WRTG 3030 fulfills the upper division written communication requirement for graduation at CU-Boulder. Our class will function as distance education through Desire2Learn (D2L); all class activities and communication are conducted electronically and asynchronously. You must be self-motivated and timely to be successful in an online course, willing/able to actively engage in online message exchanges and web searching, as well as watching podcasts.  Since the course is also highly concentrated in terms of the timeline and workload, it is essential that you have good time management skills.


The course focuses on persuasive, narrative, and analytical writing that embodies critical thinking (broadly defined). We’ll work to help you 1) recognize and respond to claims made about science, research methods/results, and their applicability to life outside the sciences; and 2) contribute to a scientifically literate citizenry by generating dialogue about science with diverse stakeholders.

Your aim should be to use that critical awareness to better understand how specific genres can be used to help you enter communications about scientific discoveries. As you might guess, a key factor in the success of such communications is adapting the message to the situation’s audience. Completing assignments will take some focus upon how written communication is used in new media (blogs and wikis), as well as paying attention to diction, tone, and style in your own writing.

In keeping with the learning goals set by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE), this class is designed to help you:

  • Deepen your rhetorical knowledge by teaching you to use voice, tone, format, and structure appropriately, deepening understanding of relationships between form (syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling) and content in writing.
  • Focus on rhetorical situation, audience, and purpose, such that you can write and read texts written in several genres, for specified discourse communities, including professions and/or disciplines.
  • Deepen experience in writing processes, by using multiple drafts and revisions such that you may develop strategies for generating ideas, revising, editing, and proofreading for extensive, in-depth and/or collaborative projects.
  • Learn to critique your work and others’ work, including the work of professional writers and/or scholars.
  • Learn how to analyze issues, problems and opportunities relevant to the sciences, and to apply sound reasoning to develop a valid, credible perspective based upon solid evidence.
  • Deepen understanding of writing/genre conventions, including format, structure and documentation appropriate for different writing tasks.
  • Demonstrate comprehension of content knowledge, by learning to evaluate sources for accuracy, relevance, credibility, reliability, and bias, such that you may compose messages adapted to a variety of audiences/rhetorical situations, by using a variety of technologies (communication and research tools).


No Required Text


Written assignments will progress in a unified manner:

  • Reading Journal (10% of course grade).
  • Comparison-Contrast Essay (15% of course grade).
  • Annotated Bibliography, with Topic Proposal (25% of course grade).
  • Wikipage (30% of course grade).
  • Blogpost (25% of course grade
  • Participation (10% of course grade).

Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search MyCUInfo and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.


Monday – Friday
7:30am to 4:30pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado