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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

University writing program growing in popularity

Last year, the University Writing Program (UWP) launched the writing minor, which received an outstanding response from UC Davis students.

In the first year, 35 students graduated with a writing minor, and now more than 100 students have declared a minor in writing.

“The launching of the writing minor has been very popular,” said UWP director Chris Thaiss. “It shows that there is a lot of student interest in writing courses other than just the composition requirement.”

The growing popularity of the writing minor correlates to the increasing demand for strong writing skills needed after graduation.

A writing minor is a strong credential to the testament of one’s ability to write and communicate, and employers are always looking for people with the ability to write, Thaiss said. In response to the increase in student interest, new UWP courses are being added.

Two new classes will be available winter 2011: UWP 11: Popular Science and Technology Writing and UWP 11C: Specialized Topics in Journalism: Science Journalism.

Sarah Perrault, creator and instructor of UWP 11, is very enthusiastic about the course. Her research on how popular science writing creates and mediates the relationship between the scientific and public sphere will be the main focus of the course.

There is nothing better for a professor than spending a term talking about an exciting topic with a group of interested and intelligent students, she said. Given UC Davis’s reputation in science, Davis is a great place to discuss the roles and responsibilities between science and society.

In addition, the recent successes of UWP events featuring popular science writers lead to the creation of UWP 11.
“Why not have a course focused on popular science and technology? We deal with it everyday, and students who are majoring in the sciences need to know how to write and communicate with people who are not other scientists,” Thaiss said.
Instead of the traditional writing-based class, the course will be conceptually oriented.
“[UWP 11] is looking at popular science writing as a conversation, not only about science, but what science is and isn’t and what science should and shouldn’t be,” Perrault said. “It makes the course interesting not just to scientists, but to anyone who is interested in how the science and non-scientific sphere interact.”
UWP 11 satisfies the general education requirements for writing experience and topical breadth for Arts and Humanities.
In addition to the new science writing courses, the UWP will introduce a professional editing course (UWP 112A) spring 2011.
Rebekka Andersen, a UWP assistant professor, created UWP 112A after having taught similar, successful courses at other institutions.
“Editing is a discipline,” Andersen said. “Editors look in terms of writing as a project manager. They look at how they can take several writings that may be inconsistent and create a cohesive document to meet the needs of the readers.”
The class will introduce students to general editing practices with an emphasis in professional editing, including academia and the workplace. It will fulfill the Group C requirement for the writing minor.
The new courses and the popularity of the writing minor have contributed to the UWP’s goal to develop a writing major.
“We don’t know when a UWP major is going to happen, but hopefully in the next few years,” Andersen said. “With the second year of the writing minor, we have somewhere around 100 minors, which is exciting given that it’s such a new opportunity for UC Davis students.”

MICHELLE MURPHY can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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