English 480 Writing about Science and Medicine (special topics in technical communication). (Kellogg)
The field of science and medical writing is large and diverse, and it includes everything from popular science writing to writing technical reports with and for scientists. Whatever their specialty, good science and medical writers are highly employable. Science and medical writers work for scientists, hospitals, nonprofits, technology companies, government agencies, and pharmaceutical firms.
Do you need to be a scientist in order to succeed as a scientific writer? No: scientist or non-scientist, you need to be an engaged and critical reader with a passion for good writing. In fact, although science and medicine bristle with complex technical terms and ideas, those who work as scientific and medical writers often must translate those ideas to the point where they can be digested for a broader public.
With that in mind, this course approaches science writing as creative non-fiction. It is a course in scientific writing for the public; while interest in science is needed, a student does not have to be a scientist or a science major to enjoy it. Exploring topics of interest to them, students will write popular magazine articles, profiles, educational documents, “explainer” articles, and exploratory pieces of varying length. Drafts of student writing will be discussed in an open-ended, workshop-style format. What happens to science when it becomes publicized? How do writers treat complex results responsibly while communicating to wide audiences? Is “dumbing-down” inevitable? These are among the questions we will consider.
Please note: the listed prerequisites are inaccurate, and we are in the process of correcting them. If needed, students can get permission from me or the English department chair.