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WRTG 3030 Writing on Science and Society: Topics in Writing


Douglas Dupler


Writing 3030: Writing on Science and Society is a second-level writing course that expands and refines students’ writing, critical thinking, and communication skills. Topics such as rhetoric, argument, ethics, science communication, and current social issues that also contain scientific, technological, economic, and political dimensions, are the grounding for our semester-long practice of writing and rhetoric. This course introduces, analyzes, and guides the production of various texts in important genres of scientific and professional writing, and aims to prepare students for the writing situations and critical-thinking challenges that they will encounter as professionals and citizens.


CU’s writing program asserts that “effective professional writing grows out of sound, incisive critical thinking. For the professional, exceptional thinking must be grounded in an understanding of rhetorical context–not only the immediate audience and purpose, but also the professional and social contexts that shape the field. As writers analyze issues within this interplay of contexts, they learn to exercise their abilities and responsibilities as individuals within the profession. Writers in professional contexts understand that writing is a process, involving informed participation in a community of writers as well as attention to the demands of style.”

This course stresses the importance of the genre approach to learning professional writing. We define genre as forms (in both writing and speaking) that have analogues in the workplace and public domains. We aim to promote understanding of how specific genres help professionals achieve practical results and influence behavior, and we also focus on language and how it constitutes these various forms of professional and public discourse. Doing this, we strive to help students gain the facility to adapt to future writing situations.

This course satisfies upper-division core requirements in CU-Boulder schools because it extends rhetorical knowledge and writing skills by addressing specialized discourse communities. This course meets the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) “guaranteed transfer” goals for an advanced writing course:

Extend rhetorical knowledge: In this course, we write and read in various academic and professional genres, including proposals, reports, summaries, white papers, op-eds, emails, cover letters, resumes, websites, blogs, journal articles, book chapters, civic essays, journalism, documentaries, print and video advertisements, and professional correspondence such as memos. We will a) analyze the situation and purpose of pieces of writing; b) improve understanding of how form and content work together; c) analyze how authors use persuasion and build arguments appropriate for their genre and audience; and d) make arguments and persuasive texts of our own in specific genres.

Extend Experience in Writing Processes: With each assignment, we will practice writing as a doable series of actions that result in competently assembled deliverables. These actions include: a) generating ideas, composing drafts of assignments, and editing, revising, and proofreading those drafts; b) critiquing your own and your classmates’ work through the peer review process; c) doing effective research and honing information literacy; d) using technology such as websites, Internet search engines, electronic databases, Word, and PowerPoint; e) evaluating sources for accuracy, relevancy, credibility, and bias; and f) reflecting on your writing in order to clarify the writing process.

Extend Mastery of Writing Conventions: a) Building on the understanding of writing issues explored in first-year writing classes, including further discussion of argument, persuasion, organization, forms, and other genre conventions; and b) developing a better understanding of style, syntax, grammar, and punctuation. By analyzing, for example, the conventions of cover letters and resumes, we will gain an appreciation of how the different parts of these documents fit together and can be changed according to the circumstance.

Demonstrate comprehension of content knowledge at the advanced level through effective communication strategies: a) Understanding the content and style needs of a specific audience for a piece of writing; b) writing for a variety of situations in the business world and adapting content, style, and form; c) giving effective oral presentations using PowerPoint and principles of visual rhetoric; and d) critically addressing content and arguments appropriate to “environmental writing.”


No Required Text


Cover letter and resume 10%

Article Summary and Argument Analysis 15%

Rhetorical Analysis Project (or Technical Recommendation Memo) 10%

Research Paper/Presentation 30%

Short writing assignments, quizzes, reading responses 20%

Online Discussion Threads 15%


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