ENGL 121 C: Composition: Social Issues

Meeting Time: 
WF 12:30pm - 2:20pm
EEB 026

Syllabus Description:

English 121: Composition: Social Issues

Winter 2018 / Section C


Instructor: Dan Sears                                                                Office Location: ART 351

Class Time: W/F 12:30-2:20                                                     Office Hours: W/F 11:00-12:00

Classroom: Electrical Engineering Building (EEB), Rm. 026           Contact: dsears@uw.edu





Course Description

In this class, we will be writing to discover connections between:

  • The communities we participate in and our understanding of the world
  • The specific concerns addressed by our community partners (the organizations you will volunteer for) and broader social processes
  • Intellectual (meaning something approximate to “mental”) spaces and geographical spaces, and similarly
  • Our classroom and the communities that we serve

We will also write in order to refine, reassess, and retell our understanding of these connections by:

  • Discussing our writing, as well as that of others, in order to push beyond the obvious and to create new meaning.
  • Writing within multiple genres in order to explore a single line of inquiry that each of us develops and explores individually.
  • Writing multiple essays (drafts) in response to single prompts.

A second goal of this course is to highlight permutations of boarders, both conceptual and physical. We will do this by:

  • Expanding our understanding of “language” and “writing”
  • Reflecting on and deconstructing the ideological (i.e. commonly assumed) boundaries we bring with us to the classroom.  

Public Writing Policy


Nearly all public writing assigned in English 121 is done either with or for community partners (flyers, testimonials, newsletter articles, fundraisers, research on areas of interest to the organizations, surveys, etc.), so this public writing is already cleared by those agencies for use beyond the classroom. In cases where public writing is not done in consultation or collaboration with agencies, but refers to agencies or is based on your work at those agencies, even if the agencies are not identified by name, you must receive permission for this work to go beyond your classroom through a signed release from your site supervisor. Examples of public writing referring to organizations, but not necessarily done with or for organizations, might include policy proposals, wikis, editorials, letters to the editor, public blogs, facebook pages, etc. If you have any question about whether your writing is public or requires permission, consult with your English 121 teacher.


What is service-learning?


Service-learning provides a unique experience to connect coursework with engagement in and with the local community. Offered as an integral part of many University of Washington courses, service-learning provides students an opportunity to reflect on their in-class learning in tandem with an on-going commitment to a local non-profit or community-based organization. Service-learning opportunities address concerns that are identified and articulated by community partner organizations. Service-learning combines community-based service with structured preparation and reflection opportunities.


The Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center coordinates service-learning opportunities for undergraduate students and is a resource as you connect to community-based opportunities.


Commitment expectations


Service-learning opportunities generally expect a minimum weekly commitment of at least three hours. Students are expected to commit from the second week of the quarter through the last week of classes. Service-learning is seen as an essential “text” of your class – you are expected to regularly engage with, reflect on, and integrate the service-learning into your classroom experience through structured classroom reflection and assignments. Building authentic relationships and consistent, weekly engagement with your community organization are essential components of successfully completing your service-learning.


How do I select a service-learning position?


Instructions for reviewing a list of service-learning opportunities matched with this course will be presented during the first day of classes. You can also visit uw.edu/carlson and follow the service-learning link on the website.


Registration for a service-learning position takes place online. Please check the Carlson Center web site for the specific date and time registration will open for this class. Most courses will register for service-learning positions during the latter half of the first week of classes.


Service-learning orientations


All students are expected to complete an orientation with their selected service-learning organization as soon as possible after registering for service-learning. As soon as you register for your position online and receive a confirmation email from the Carlson Center, contact your organization by phone and email to either 1) confirm your attendance at an already scheduled orientation or 2) to schedule an orientation if no specific date/time was listed in your position description. Ideally, orientations should occur during the second week of the quarter and no later than the third week.


If, by Friday of Week 3 you have not registered for service-learning, selected an organization, attended an orientation and begun your service-learning work, it is your responsibility to notify both your classroom teacher and the Carlson Center to discuss next steps.


How is my service-learning evaluated?


The schedule and duties for your service-learning are outlined in the position you select, and should be discussed with your site supervisor at orientation/as you begin your service. If you have any questions about schedule, hours, or duties necessary to fulfill your commitment to the organization, you should check in with your supervisor at the organization or with the Carlson by Friday of Week 3.


At the end of the quarter, the organization where you have engaged in service-learning will submit an evaluation of your service-learning work. Organizations complete a rubric assessing issues such as your responsibility in contacting them and attending an orientation, maintaining the schedule you committed to, your contribution to the work of the organization, your professionalism, and your concern for the clients and mission of the organization. In addition, the organization is asked to note either that you have a) fulfilled your commitment to the organization, or b) that you have not yet fulfilled your commitment but are expected to by the end of the quarter, or c) that you have not fulfilled your commitment and are not expected to by the end of the quarter.  


How is my service-learning evaluation used in figuring my final grade for English 121?


Service-learning is required in English 121. Participation in service-learning is 10% of the final course grade. Students whose organizations report that they have fulfilled their commitment, or are expected to by the end of the quarter, will receive full credit for this 10% of their course grade in English 121. Students whose organizations report that they have not fulfilled their commitment and are not expected to by the end of the quarter will receive no credit for this 10% of their course grade in English 121.   Service-learning is also essential to some of your assignments in English 121, and is thus essential for creating a complete (eligible for grading) portfolio.


Students do not need to reach out directly to the Carlson Center to inquire about whether their evaluation has been received. The Carlson Center conducts multiple rounds of targeted follow-up with partners when necessary, reminding them to complete the evaluations. In the event that your service-learning evaluation is not submitted or your work received a negative ("did not fulfill commitment") evaluation, your instructor will pursue clarification.


Service-learning workshops


The Carlson Center offers the following workshops for service-learning students:


  • Service-learning workshop for International Students
  • Geared toward international students with limited experience with volunteering or service-learning in the U.S. Focused on exploring the concept of service, expectations for engaging in service-learning, and how to make the most of your experience.
  • Pre-Service Workshops
  • Focused on engaging in critical self-reflection, utilizing a strengths-based perspective in service, exploring motivations for service and building authentic relationships Workshops are offered at the Carlson Center in Mary Gates Hall 171.


Check the Carlson Center’s website for specific dates and times.


Questions about service-learning


The staff of the Carlson Center is available to answer any questions about service-learning or assist you in registering or connecting with an organization. Stop by the Carlson Center weekdays between 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM to speak with a member of our team. You may also email at serve@uw.edu or call (206)543- 4282.






Outcomes for Expository Writing Program Courses

Outcome One: To compose strategically for a variety of audiences and contexts, both within and outside the university, by

  • recognizing how different elements of a rhetorical situation matter for the task at hand and affect the options for composing and distributing texts;
  • coordinating, negotiating, and experimenting with various aspects of composing—such as genre, content, conventions, style, language, organization, appeals, media, timing, and design—for diverse rhetorical effects tailored to the given audience, purpose, and situation; and
  • assessing and articulating the rationale for and effects of composition choices.

Outcome Two: To work strategically with complex information in order to generate and support inquiry by

  • reading, analyzing, and synthesizing a diverse range of texts and understanding the situations in which those texts are participating;
  • using reading and writing strategies to craft research questions that explore and respond to complex ideas and situations;
  • gathering, evaluating, and making purposeful use of primary and secondary materials appropriate for the writing goals, audience, genre, and context;
  • creating a “conversation”—identifying and engaging with meaningful patterns across ideas, texts, experiences, and situations; and
  • using citation styles appropriate for the genre and context.

Outcome Three: To craft persuasive, complex, inquiry-driven arguments that matter by

  • considering, incorporating, and responding to different points of view while developing one’s own position;
  • engaging in analysis—the close scrutiny and examination of evidence, claims, and assumptions—to explore and support a line of inquiry;
  • understanding and accounting for the stakes and consequences of various arguments for diverse audiences and within ongoing conversations and contexts; and
  • designing/organizing with respect to the demands of the genre, situation, audience, and purpose.

Outcome Four: To practice composing as a recursive, collaborative process and to develop flexible strategies for revising throughout the composition process by

  • engaging in a variety of (re)visioning techniques, including (re)brainstorming, (re)drafting, (re)reading, (re)writing, (re)thinking, and editing;
  • giving, receiving, interpreting, and incorporating constructive feedback; and
  • refining and nuancing composition choices for delivery to intended audience(s) in a manner consonant with the genre, situation, and desired rhetorical effects and meanings.




Readings will be drawn from the EWP course textbook, Writer/Thinker/Maker, as well as from a number of other sources, including:

Writing and Community Action (Thomas Deans)

Community Writing (Paul Collins)

Writing and Community Engagement (Deans, Roswell, and Wurr)


***All readings will be posted on the Canvas website for convenient access***


Portfolio = 70% of grade

In this course, you will complete two major assignment sequences, each of which is designed to help you fulfill the course outcomes. Each assignment sequence requires you to complete a variety of shorter assignments leading up to a major paper. These shorter assignments will each target one or more of the course outcomes at a time, help you practice these outcomes, and allow you to build toward a major paper at the end of each sequence. You will have a chance to revise significantly each of the major papers using feedback generated by your instructor, peer review sessions, and writing conferences. Toward the end of the course, having completed the two sequences, you will be asked to compile and submit a portfolio of your work along with a critical reflection. The portfolio will include the following: one of the two major papers, three to four of the shorter assignments, and a critical reflection that explains how the selected portfolio demonstrates the four outcomes for the course. In addition to the materials you select as the basis for your portfolio grade, your portfolio must include all of the sequence-related writing you were assigned in the course (both major papers and all the shorter assignments from both sequences). A portfolio that does not include all the above will be considered "Incomplete" and will earn a grade of 0.0-0.9. The grade for complete portfolios will be based on the extent to which the pieces you select demonstrate the course outcomes. The portfolio will be worth 70% of your final grade.

Participation = 30% of grade


Participation includes attendance, in-class work, and completion of homework on time and according to guidelines. I keep close track of what you turn in as well as its quality. If you ever have any questions about how you are doing in this regard, please come see me in office hours. Additionally, 10% of your participation grade will be attributed to the completion of your service-learning requirement. If the organization you volunteer for determines that you did not fulfill this requirement, then you will automatically have your grade dropped by 10%.


Attendance Policy


Your regular attendance is required and your participation grade will be lowered for poor attendance. Please communicate with me about your absences as much as possible. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get the assignments, class notes, and course changes from a classmate. If you miss class on a day that written work is due, you are still expected to turn your work in on time. In-class work cannot be made up.

Late Policy


Late work will not be given any written feedback. Students submitting late work are welcome to come to office hours to receive oral feedback, but those assignments will receive a “0” and will affect participation grades. Be sure to manage your time wisely and anticipate upcoming deadlines, which are all listed on the course schedule. And always come talk to me if you are struggling to keep up with the fast pace of the class. I’m happy to help in any way I can. I also give extensions, but only if you ask me 48 hours BEFORE the due date.


Extra Credit


You have the opportunity to complete one extra credit assignment worth one day of class participation or one late assignment. To earn this extra credit, you will visit the OWRC and work with one of the tutors to improve either a SA or a MP. In addition to visiting the OWRC, you must acquire the tutor’s signature and complete a 250-word reflection on your experience at the writing center.


Conferences/Required Office Hours Visit


You are required to attend two conferences with me during the quarter. I’ll be scheduling these mandatory conferences between the first peer review and the due date of your first major paper. You are also welcome to come and talk to me during office hours any time, too. If you can’t make my office hours, I’m also happy to schedule an appointment with you outside of my office hours. I highly recommend you take advantage of this opportunity.


University Policies


Academic Integrity Clause


Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people's thoughts and writing--as long as you cite them. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.


If you have any concerns about the course or your instructor, please see the instructor about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the following Expository Writing Program staff in Padelford A-11: Director Candice Rai, (206) 543-2190 or crai@uw.edu or Assistant Directors Belle Kim, bbkim@uw.edu; Sumyat Thu, smthu@uw.edu; or TJ Walker, tjwalker@uw.edu. If, after speaking with the Director or Assistant Directors of the EWP, you are still not satisfied with the response you receive, you may contact English Department Chair Brian Reed, (206) 543-2690.

University Resources


If you need accommodation of any sort, please let me know so that I can work with the UW Disability Resources for Students Office (DRS) to provide what you require. This syllabus is available in large print, as are other class materials. More information about accommodation may be found at http://www.washington.edu/students/drs/.

Campus safety

Preventing violence is everyone's responsibility. If you're concerned, tell someone.

  • Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
  • Call 206-685-SAFE (7233) to report non-urgent threats of violence and for referrals to UW counseling and/or safety resources. TTY or VP callers, please call through your preferred relay service.
  • Don't walk alone. Campus safety guards can walk with you on campus after dark. Call Husky NightWalk 206-685-WALK (9255).
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For more information visit the SafeCampus website at www.washington.edu/safecampus.


Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment

Website: depts.washington.edu/clue



Odegaard Writing & Research Center

Website: depts.washington.edu/owrc






Catalog Description: 
Focuses on the study and practice of good writing: topics derived from a variety of personal, academic, and public subjects. Includes a service-learning component allowing students to engage with and write about social issues in applied ways.. Cannot be taken if student has already received a grade of 2.0 or higher in either ENGL 111, ENGL 121, or ENGL 131.
GE Requirements: 
English Composition (C)
Other Requirements Met: 
Service Learning
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 10:30pm