Writing about Health, Science, and the Environment [CRN 77132 Course] [CRN 77138 Lab]

461:
Discipline: Journalism and Media Communication
Instructor: Trauth
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1210
End: 1330
Field Class: Day 1 - Tuesday, 22 November | Peru
Prerequisites: One (1) undergraduate journalism or technical writing course Download Syllabus

In this course, students will master concepts related to writing about science, health and the environment from a journalistic lens. Scientific journalists must effectively write about complex scientific information for lay audiences, and, beyond strong writing skills, this task requires the utmost attention to the science behind and the ethical implications of the information being communicated. In this course, students will first learn about concepts and theories underpinning the current state of global scientific communications. Then, using recent, global journalistic coverage of scientific, health and environmental issues related to the proliferation of and debate about genetically-modified foods as a core example, students will gain a greater understanding of the complex issues associated with constructing communications of this nature. To comprehend these issues in a localized context, students will also study local media and scientific, regulatory, political and advocate communications connected to the ship’s ports. Then, students will use effective practices of process-based writing to construct their own works of ethical, evidence-based communications for local audiences. Through weekly discussions, reading assignments, writing exercises, drafting, peer reviews and editing, students will study and practice writing about issues of intricate scientific nature, resulting in a deeper understanding of this specialized form of writing. This course will help students articulate and comprehend issues about writing scientific communications for lay audiences and compose effective communications about science, health and the environment in a global context.

Field Class

Country: Peru
Day: 1 - Tuesday, 22 November

In 2012, Peru began a 10-year ban on genetically-modified foods. The laws prohibit the import, production, and use of GMO foods in the country. Many experts, as well as the local news media, claim that this ban was imposed in order to protect biodiversity and also support local farmers and families against industrial-scale GMO crop farming methods. In this field class, we will travel 30 minutes from Callao to Lima, Peru and visit a local farmer’s market. Students will be asked to converse with local farmers – both organic and conventional – to find out how the GMO ban has since impacted their work, the local environment, and the health of farm workers and families living in surrounding areas. We will also visit a local organic, non-GMO restaurant and speak with the purveyors in order to gain their perspectives on the GMO ban. A large portion of this field class will be spent at the headquarters of a non-governmental organization, the Network of Ecological Agriculture of Peru (RAE). At RAE, we will take a tour and have meetings/discussions with leading local farmers, representatives of the GMO-Free Peru movement, officials from the Ministry of Environment (responsible for implementing the 10-year moratorium on GMOs in Peru) and teachers from the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina. Upon leaving this port, students will be asked to respond and reflect on their experiences in a series of short writing assignments aimed at providing narrative to a real-world global situation. At the end of the voyage, students will be asked to engage with this field class within a global perspectives paper written for a lay audience, and, for those interested in extending the assignment past the voyage, eventually submit journalistic work on farmer perspectives on GMOs in Peru to any number of publications. This field experience will serve as a case study of a recent issue impacting the local economy, health, and the environment. Learning objectives:

  1. Respond and reflect on their experiences in a series of short writing assignments aimed at providing narrative to a real-world global situation.
  2. Engage with this field lab within a global perspectives paper written for a lay audience, and, for those interested in extending the assignment past the voyage, eventually submit journalistic work on farmer perspectives on GMOs in Peru to any number of publications.
  3. Experience a case study of a recent issue impacting the local and global economy, health, and the environment.