A nature- and science-oriented writing course focused on various issues related to sustainability (e.g. environmental concerns, ecological literacy, human values and interconnections). May repeat for credit with different content. Topics vary by offering; periodic offering at intervals that may exceed four years.
Open to Degree and PACE students
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. “We tell ourselves stories,” as Joan Didion famously stated, “in order to live.” In this nature- and science-oriented composition course, a core offering for credit toward both the Reporting & Documentary Storytelling (RDS) and Writing Minors as well as the Sustainability (SU) Gen Ed Requirement fulfillment, we’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. Through various forms of writing—including magazine-style journalism—we’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 our intended audience. Readings include: Why Fish Don’t Exist, “a magical hybrid of science, portraiture, and memoir” (Susan Orlean) by NPR’s Lulu Miller; writings from American Earth, Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (edited by Vermont’s own Bill McKibben), excerpted essays and chapters by renowned feminist and naturalist, Terry Tempest Williams, and scientist-professor as well as enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer; a variety of magazine-style articles (which you will research yourselves); and, a added this year, Dacher Keltner’s Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life. As Sam Kean (editor of The Best American Science & Nature Writing and author of The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, The Disappearing Spoon, and The Violinist’s Thumb) writes: “This is one of the most exciting times in the history of science…. Perhaps, not coincidentally, science writing itself has never been better either. There’s a misconception among the public that science is Vulcan, a strictly logical enterprise. In reality it’s an intensely human activity, employing the full range of both reason and emotions, of logos and pathos… and a real sense of craft and storytelling.” Through storytelling, imitation, and the writing process, we’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? we’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? we’ll wonder as we explore sustainability and discover both solutions and recreation—through writing itself, as its own 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. Plan to be transformed. Trust the process.
Get ready to fill your writing vessel with a multitude of select readings from: Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life, by Dacher Keltner Erosion, Essays of Undoing, by Terry Tempest Williams Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer American Earth, Environmental Writing Since Thoreau, ed. By Bill McKibben Why Fish Don’t Exist, by Lulu Miller The Overstory, by Richard Powers Get ready to Listen and Learn: From various select TED Talks, podcasts, and “Tales of Sweetgrass and Trees” Get ready for Weekly Writing Workshops: Close Reading and Making Connections Stories of Endangerment Stories of Relationship, of Reciprocity Stories of Wilderness Get ready for feedback: In peer workshops and one-on-on conferences Get psyched for Student-led Resources and Publications Discussions to inspire your upcoming research and long-form magazine-style article.
Class attendance and participation: 30% Weekly Writings Portfolio: 20% Fieldnotes Journal: 10% Student-led Sustainability Resource Discussion: 5% Magazine-style Article, 8-10 pages (including all process pieces, thinking and drafts): 20% Sustainability Outreach Project: 5% Epilogue: Final Reflection and Exam: 10%
Note: These dates may change before registration begins.
Note: These dates may not be accurate for select courses during the Summer Session.
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ENGL 1705 B is closed to new enrollment.
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