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Advanced Jouralistic Writing: Science, Technology, Society

ENGL 158.301
instructor(s):

Subjects such as cloning, genetically modified foods, and climate change present challenges of comprehension for the general public and political leaders alike. We will address the problem of writing about science and technology for a public that has grown skeptical of science’s role in shaping the future. The semester will begin with a review of some of the fundamentals of journalism. In the second half of the semester, members of the workshop will engage in an extended reporting project whose subject matter requires them to move between the two cultures of "science" and "human values," and identify where they intersect. A partial list of potential subjects, in addition to those already mentioned, includes: stem cell research; problems of public health in the developing world; nano-biotech and synthetic biology; safety of our food and water supplies; the challenge of “clean energy”; artificial intelligence and the human interface; genetic enhancement of human function; how the web transforms our world; science in service of national security objectives. This being a writing course, our stress will be on selecting a suitable topic; devising a realistic research and interview strategy; and techniques for bringing it all together in the form of an extended article suitable for magazine or web publication.