Nicholas School of the Environment
Writing for Environmental Professionals
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About the course
Writing in environmental fields encompasses many genres, from policy memos to manuals, blog posts to interpretive signs. This course will allow you to refine and reflect on your writing process. For some, the course may serve as a tune-up; for others, a significant remodeling.
Writing in environmental fields encompasses many genres, from policy memos to manuals, blog posts to interpretive signs. This course will allow you to refine and reflect on your writing process. For some, the course may serve as a tune-up; for others, a significant remodeling. Through six modules, on-line discussion, and a series of writing assignments, we will examine the most important aspects of any piece of professional writing: organization, use of evidence, clarity and cohesion, and incorporating feedback during the revision process. The goal is for your writing to become more powerful as a result of this work.
Week 1: Technical Check (optional webinar with Duke staff) and Getting Started.
Week 2: Writing as a process: Brainstorming, outlines, drafts, reverse outlines, and organization
Week 3: Who’s my audience? Discourse communities and audience evaluation
Week 4: Citing sources, Document organization and design.
Week 5: Crafting paragraphs. Revision and reviewing the work of others.
Week 6: Clarity, coherence and cohesion: Linking words and ideas, flow, transitions
Week 7: Editing, evaluation, and revision.
This course will require 40 hours over the 7-week class period. The course is seven weeks in length and is taught in an entirely online, distance learning format, with both asynchronous and synchronous portions. No campus visits are required. Depending upon enrollment, we anticipate offering 1-2 times each week that you can interact with instructors and classmates via WebEx. Time will include, but is not limited to:
Each week for Weeks 2-7, class will meet for a webconference session where students and instructor will address the week’s theme and materials. Please note: Meeting times will not be finalized until registration is closed. Times depend on registrant availability, which will be elicited via email to registrants.
- Discussion via online conferencing tools. Participation will be encouraged through the posing of various questions based on readings, previous discussion, and future directions of the class. In addition to exploring general course topics, web discussion tools will also allow students to work through issues related to their campaign – exploring opportunities and selecting the correct strategies with help from others in the class and instructor’s guidance.
- Reading of assigned materials.
- Situate your writing in the context of academic and popular literature
- Clearly articulate your positions on environmental topics
- Target a specific audience when writing
- Edit your own work for clarity and correctness
- Give generous and assertive feedback on the written work of peers
- Use the feedback of peers to improve your writing
- Revise and rethink your writing through multiple drafts
Please note: While specific components of outlined class structure may change, it will be expected that students commit to 40 hours over the 6-week class period.
One of the most critical elements of this class will be your personal contribution to the course through consistent postings to class discussion boards, as well as participation during web-conference meetings. You will receive specific instructions for this requirement before the course commences.
Participants will develop and implement a specific writing campaign. Assignment details will be given at the beginning of the class.
We understand that participants have different comfort levels with online learning coming into this course. We are happy to answer any questions you have about online learning in general and our online learning software.
Course participants need to arrange to have reliable, high-speed internet access through their local internet service provider (ISP). We encourage participants to arrange for broadband access to the internet via a cable modem, DSL, or a satellite connection. Dial-up connections will not work as effectively for this course. We cannot provide support for your network connection, nor can we help you with any home networking equipment such as firewalls, routers, or switches. For any of those issues, you will want to contact your ISP directly.
Distance Learning Software
The course will be facilitated using password protected website and WebEx. The Duke Environmental Leadership program will be available during the course to assist you with any course issues. Contact information will be provided. The distance learning software will be available to you free of charge (except for USB head-set for webinar participation).
Trust the experts
I am a dedicated ecologist and environmental educator with a passion for writing. I work as a Lecturer in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University where I teach courses emphasizing natural history and environmental education & communication. I am also the Director of the Env...