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ENGL 299 C: Intermediate Interdisciplinary Writing - Natural Sciences

Meeting Time: 
MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
* *
Carrie Matthews
Carrie Matthews

Syllabus Description:

English 299: Pandemic Nutrition

 A Writing Seminar linked to NUTR 200

Autumn 2020

Instructor: Carrie Matthews

Office Hours:

                                    M, 12:30-2:30 p.m. PDT or by appointment: email

Feel free to text me at 206-351-0214 for quick questions or to set up an office hours appointment


            All texts assigned in NUTR 200

            Supplementary texts will be posted to our Canvas website

            Documentaries available online (but you may have a pay a small fee to access them, depending on what streaming services you subscribe to. I will try to keep this to a minimum.)

Course Overview

Welcome to English 299, a writing seminar linked to NUTR 200. One underlying assumption of this course is that ‘good’ college writing cannot happen independently of real knowledge, and knowledge at a university usually means inquiry under the rubric of a specific academic discipline or field, in this case an interdisciplinary field. So our writing in this class will be grounded in what you are learning in NUTR 200, and it will often ask you to take a social justice lens on issues around nutrition. Basically, we will operate as friendly parasites in English 299, using NUTR 200 to provide us with genuine and rich academic writing contexts.

"Pandemic Nutrition” will guide you in exploring some of the issues you learn about in NUTR 200 through writing projects that ask questions about access, food (in)security, and the impacts of insufficient nutrition and malnutrition as well as explores current and developing mutual aid projects around nutrition, issues of food sovereignty, and the science of food. Because of our current public health crisis, we will be examining these issues in light of Covid 19 and public health responses (or lack thereof) to it. Whether you intend on a major in nutrition, related science fields, or public health, or you just want to focus on writing in a small intellectual community, this course will offer you opportunities to hone your rhetorical skills. You'll write three “major papers” and a lot of informal responses. And you will have the opportunity to conference your rough draft of each “major paper” with me and your classmates before submitting a final draft.

Our Sequences

  1. Food Security/Insecurity, Government Programs, & Mutual Aid
  2. Food Sovereignty: Who Has Control?
  3. The Science of Food


  • To help you develop your abilities to read, think, and write critically and interdisciplinarily about issues of nutrition and society. By the end of this course, I hope you will have developed your capacity to interrogate ideas and norms through writing, particularly in terms of food justice, nutrition, and public health.
  • To provide occasions for you to draw connections between some of the concepts and issues in NUTR 200 and problems/concerns you care about.
  • To guide you in accurately assessing your own and your peers' work in relation to our specific writing criteria.
  • To practice collaborative, publicly-engaged composition in a time of social distancing and public health turmoil.

The Remote Class Plan: I’ve been trying to learn a lot, fast, about remote teaching, and one of the things I’ve been told is to be strategic about what we do *synchronously* (at the same time) and what we do “asynchronously” (separately, at different times). Personally, I have found it mindnumbing to be on Zoom for hours on end, especially when I’m not the one in charge. So I’m going to try out this plan for most weeks:

Mondays: Check the Canvas Module we’re on for that week’s assignments, an activity for our class time (that you can do anytime that day or Tuesday) and the plan for our Zoom meeting Wednesday. I’ll hold office hours during our class time, from 12:30-2:30 PDT

Wednesdays: Synchronous Zoom class for those in PDT or adjacent time zones; discussion board and occasional brief Panopto videos for those in distant locales or who do not have access to quality WiFi

Zoom link:

Fridays: Small group discussions/writing conferences. These will be synchronous, in groups of 4-6, but I will have evening options (PDT) for those in China and Southeast Asia.

There will be exceptions to this, but this will be the “rhythm” of the class. I’m happy to make office hour appointments most times of the day, especially for those of you living outside the U.S. this quarter.

Class Community Norms

Respect for Difference & Learning: For us to achieve the intellectual vibrancy diversity produces, we have to be open to learning how others see and move through the world, and we have to respect everyone's experiences. We should also recognize that some people's ways of seeing and experiencing the world have been privileged, while others have been marginalized, disparaged, and sometimes met with outright violence. We should attend to that in our written and oral commentary by engaging difference with openness to learning and awareness of power dynamics.  I expect each of us to help build a class community where sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, and ableist language and action are not welcomed so that all members of our class can be welcomed.

Respect for Writing and Writers: This class is an inclusive learning community that will frequently function as a writing workshop. Because of that—and because we learn from reading others’ writing—I will frequently ask you to post your writing on our class discussion board. If you are puzzled by an assignment, this will allow you to read your classmates’ responses and get a better sense of the task at hand. Please respect the parameters of our learning community and do not share your classmates’ writing with people outside the course unless you have their permission to do so in writing.

Sharing Writing: Much of our class time will be spent reading and responding to one another’s writing in progress. Hopefully this goes without saying, but at the risk of redundancy, I’ll say (well, write) it: treat everyone and everyone’s drafts in this class with respect. In particular, when we discuss informal writing or drafts, identify emerging or potential strengths as well as weaknesses. And remember that you’re critiquing the draft in front of you, not the writer.

Assessment: You work in this class will be assessed according to a grade contract, which tries to assess you on learning and actually assesses you on labor.

Why a grade contract rather than traditional grading of final drafts of writing projects? There’s a long story behind this, but basically, a colleague who used to direct writing at UW Tacoma (and who is a major scholar—Asao Inoue if you want to look him up) convinced me that traditional grading of writing is racist, and I already didn’t like it because I mostly felt it just rewarded people like me and unfairly penalized a lot of other students simply on the basis of difference. My family was poor until I was 8, as in my Mom sewed my clothes and eating at McDonalds was a treat, but I had a super-privileged upbringing once my dad got a good job with the U.S. State Department. My dad has a PhD, and my mom a BA. And I got to travel, and there were lots of books. And, oh yeah, I’m white and cishet. So my home culture was very, very close to U.S academic culture, which made it easy to succeed and ace classes. And none of that speaks to what should matter: learning. I often just performed what I already knew and did fine, and I saw a lot of people having to totally adjust to a new culture who were as smart/hardworking as me or smarter/more hardworking who got lower grades. So I really don’t have a lot of faith that traditional grading systems for writing are just.

            The grade contract is a separate document that will be posted in Module 1. You may propose a grade contract for any grade; for example, I have had students say to me, “I just need a 2.5 and have x, y, and z going on in my life, so could I do this much work for a 2.5? That is totally fine; I respect your judgment of what works best for you this quarter, especially given the challenges of remote learning and our current dual pandemics in the United States.

Expectations: This course is designed to lead you through the steps of a developed writing process. You are required to complete every step. This includes:

1) actively participating in class discussions, small group work, and conferences;

2) providing timely, thoughtful, and engaged written feedback on peers’ drafts;

3) completing informal writing/pre-writing assignments on time; and

4) submitting all drafts and revisions of the major essays on the date they are due.

My Role: to engage—to take seriously and read attentively—your work in progress. I will coach your writing, helping you hone your critical reading skills, develop nascent ideas, analyze others’ arguments, and push your own arguments further in conversation with your classmates and professional/scholarly texts.

Your Role: to grapple with the ideas in lecture and readings and in your peers’ writing and conversation. You should puzzle through the texts we read, not skim them; consistently demonstrate engaged, critical intelligence in your writing; and come to class and conferences prepared. Perhaps most importantly, you will need to think through your own and your peers’ writing critically and engage in significant revision of your own thinking and writing. In return, you can expect your classmates and me to read your writing with care and take your reflections seriously.

The IWP & Anti-Racist Pedagogy: The Interdisciplinary Writing Program (IWP) is committed to engaging with anti-racist pedagogies. These pedagogies may take various forms, such as curricular attention to voices, communities, and perspectives that have been historically marginalized inside and beyond academic disciplines; inclusive classroom practices; discussions of racism; and consideration of other forms of prejudice and exclusion. We believe that countering the cultures and practices of racism in an academic institution is fundamental to developing a vibrant intellectual community. The IWP is happy to talk with you about your questions as well as to support student-led initiatives around anti-racist work, and we invite you to contact IWP faculty members Rush Daniel at or Carrie Matthews at If you’re interested in how teachers of English as a professional community have taken up anti-racist work, check out the National Council of Teachers of English Statement on Anti-Racism to Support Teaching and Learning at

Nuts and Bolts

Paper Format: Unless an assignment specifies otherwise, please submit all papers in 11- or 12-pt. Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. Include your name, the date, and a title at the top of the first page: you don’t need a title page. Most of your major writing projects in this class will not be academic essays, as that’s not really a key genre in public health. In fact, your first major writing project will be an infographic, and your last writing project, on food science, can be in any genre that makes sense for the project, from a podcast to a blog to a video, etc. (I’m still deciding about the second project, on food sovereignty, but I’m leaning toward a teaching or instructional genre.)

Plagiarism: Don’t do it! If you ever have questions about documentation, please come see me—I’m happy to help answer questions and share strategies for avoiding plagiarism. I do expect your words and the ideas they express to be your own except when you clearly signal and name another source.


Accommodations: Please let me know if you need accommodation of any sort. I am happy to work with the UW Disability Resources for Students Office (DRS) to provide what you require, and I am very willing to take suggestions specific to this class to meet your needs.

If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Religious Accommodations: “Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (”

I’m required to include the language above by (new) law in Washington. Basically, if any class demands conflict with a religious observance for you, I am happy to work with you. Please just let me know early in the quarter.

Writing Centers

            Wherever you fall on the spectrum of writing in this course— whether you are struggling with a writing assignment or seeking to “reach the next level”— take advantage of the UW’s writing centers. You will receive feedback and guidance on your writing from me and from your classmates, but it’s also valuable to get the perspective of someone outside the course (especially someone with expertise in producing academic writing!). UW’s writing centers are free for students and provide individual attention from trained readers and writing coaches. This quarter they will offer remote writing appointments.

The Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) offers free, one-on-one help with all aspects of writing at any stage in the writing process. You can consult with a writing tutor at any stage of the writing process, from the very beginning (when you are planning a paper) to near the end (when you are thinking about how to revise a draft to submit to your instructor). To make the best use of your time there, please bring a copy of your assignment with you and double-space any drafts you want to bring in. While OWRC writing consultants are eager to help you improve your writing, they will not proofread your paper. Available spots are limited, so book your appointments early! Reserve appointments online at .

You can also try out the CLUE Writing Center, open 7 pm until midnight, Sunday through Thursday.  CLUE is a first-come, first-served writing center located in the Gateway Center at the south end of the Mary Gates Hall Commons, but of course all virtual this quarter. To learn more, visit

Confidentiality: Barring an imminent threat, I will not discuss you or your performance in this class with third parties outside the University of Washington unless you instruct me to do so and sign a consent form. FERPA (the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) prevents me from legally disclosing student information to third parties without a release signed by you. And even if a third party (a potential employer, a government agency, etc.) contacts me for information about you and has a consent form that you have signed, I will still refrain from providing information unless you have given me a written request (email is fine). So: if you would like me to respond to queries about you from a potential employer or anyone else, you should do two things: 1) fill out and sign a release form (one the third party provides or the UW's own, found at; and 2) email me a request to talk with this third party, giving me a sense of the context (recommendation? background check?) and of any information I should be sure to reveal or not reveal.

Q Center

The University of Washington Q Center is a fierce, primarily student run resource center dedicated to serving anyone with or without a gender or sexuality – UW students, staff, faculty, alum, and community members.  We host and support student groups, put on regular programming events, house a lending library, and amplify student voices on our Student Blog.  Explore their website for more information at

UW Food Pantry

In the US, an estimated 15-25% of college students do not get enough food due to costs associated with a college education. Food insecurity negatively affects physical, mental and emotional health, making it difficult for people to perform well at school and work. Any Hungry Husky relieves this issue by providing nutritious, wholesome food to anyone in the UW community. The UW Food Pantry (Poplar Hall 210) provides UW students, staff and faculty with shelf-stable groceries and seasonal fresh produce for no cost. Anyone with a Husky ID is welcome.

For more information, check them out at

For Students with Children

I hear quality child care is tough to find and afford in Seattle. And now we’re sheltering in place. If you have young children, a) good luck maintaining your sanity, let alone getting any work done; 2) let me know what accommodations you need; and 3) mute yourself on Zoom when you’re not speaking if you’ve got the kids with you.

Voter Registration

You can register to vote online or by mail until 8 days before an election or in-person through Election day. Registrations done by mail need to be received, not postmarked, by the 8 day deadline.

Out-of-state students may register to vote in Washington if you have lived in the state for at least 30 days and have established a residential address in the state.

For more information, check out


Catalog Description: 
Expository writing based on materials presented in a specified natural science course. Assignments include drafts of papers to be submitted in the specified course, and other pieces of analytical prose. Concurrent registration in the specified course required. Offered: AWSpS.
GE Requirements: 
English Composition (C)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
June 28, 2020 - 10:50pm