F&ES 613b / 2019-2020

Writing as a Public Scholar

Credits: 1 or 3

Spring 2020: Th, 1:00-3:50, Sage 41c

Environmental scholars and practitioners increasingly recognize the need, and often have the desire, to communicate their passions and expertise to a wide, lay audience. The seminar starts from the premise that to do this effectively a mastery of written storytelling is essential, particularly in today’s saturated and fractured media landscape. Students will read popular works by classic and contemporary scholars, such as Rachel Carson and Richard Prum; practitioners in the sciences, such as Atul Gawande and Peter Wohlleben; and journalists such as Elizabeth Kolbert and John McPhee; as well as growing number of authors, such as Bill McKibben, whose work crosses these categories. Some pieces students will analyze multiple times, developing a increasingly nuanced understanding of storytelling technique

Application instructions:
Applications for the Writing as a Public Scholar seminar are due this Friday, January 10.   More information about the course is on Canvas.   Applications should be sent to Stephanie Hanes Wilson at stephanie.wilson@yale.edu
Applications should include the following: 
  1. A proposed story topic about which the student wishes to write throughout the course - mining the oil sands of Alberta, for instance, creating an urban park in Connecticut, improving standards for green buildings in Washington, DC., South Africa's rewilding initiatives, etc. This proposal should suggest what the student plans to write and establish the significance of the topic. 
  2. The name of the publication (e.g., Orion, Natural History, Christian Science Monitor, SAGE, Yale Environment 360, etc.) at which students wish to target their proposed piece of writing.
  3. A copy of an article, published by the target publication, that offers a model for the work the student wishes to write in the course.
  4. A list of research planned or already done by the student on that topic. This might include reading and personal experience. It should almost certainly include interviewing or other forms of original research. All students, whether or not they have already conducted research, should include in this part of the application a few sentences about how and when they expect to acquire additional information about their topic. (There will be few if any students who begin the class with all the research necessary for the sort of writing in which we will be engaged.)  This might include a follow-up reporting/research trip, phone interviews, etc.
  5. A short explanation for why you would like to be part of this course.
  6. An indication of your preference for three credits or one. (A few students each year enroll without having decided.)
  7. Student's name, year at F&ES, phone number, and email address.