ENGL296 S 21: Critical Literacy in the Natural Sciences
Josephine Walwema, PhD
Office: Padleford A-101
Office Hours: online MW 2:15-3:30 and by appointment
About the Course
ENGL 296: Critical Literacy in the Natural Sciences develops critical literacy in the diffuse but interlocking disciplines of the natural sciences. Through analysis and composition of various texts, students become authoritative participants in scientific discourse while also becoming familiar with ways that Western values are embedded and centered (often invisibly) in the sciences and its related institutions. Offered: AWSp.
Upon successful completion of this course, you will become familiar with:
- theory—understand major theories of the dimensions of critical literacy in the natural sciences
- inquiry— explore, experiment with, and invent a variety of writing genres in communicating science
- practice—persuasive written, oral, and visual arguments, organize ideas and language effectively to address specific readers and meet specific purposes
- Writing in the Sciences, Open Access Book
- The New York Times
- Pdf Readings uploaded in Canvas
- Short Wave Podcast
About the Course
Whether you plan to live on a UW campus, nearby or in another part of the world, there are a few steps you should take to help keep yourself and those around you safe and healthy. Follow this UW Checklist
Navigating life, both in and out of the classroom during the ongoing pandemic is challenging for all of us. I’m committed to extending as much flexibility with due dates and course requirements as I can to those who need it. I will prioritize your humanity and well-being while also trying to provide you a stimulating learning environment. Collectively, I hope we can build a community that maintains personal connections and academic engagement while recognizing that accommodations may be necessary to foster such an environment.
Zoom Breakout Rooms
We will hold zoom breakout rooms to discuss and complete group projects. The dates will be announced in advance.
Reading assignments typically appear in the syllabus on the date on which they are due. You should have completed these readings before coming to class that day.
Reading Reports. In addition to reading quizzes, you will submit weekly reading reports covering the reading as assigned. On Friday of each week, you will post a 300+ reading response addressing (in polished, professional prose) the following:
- What did you read about (summary)?
- What have you learned from it (analysis)?
- How will you use what you read to meet your writing goals for the semester (use)?
- Connect it with something else you have learned up to that point in the readings, from a lecture, or another source (contextualize)
Understand and use various research methods and sources to produce quality documents, including:
- analyzing historical and contemporary contexts
- locating, evaluating, and using print and online information selectively for particular audiences and purposes
- triangulating sources of evidence
Composing and Submitting Your Documents
Your writing and my grading is informed by four of the five canons of rhetoric below
Content (invention)The report reasons effectively, logically, and persuasively; draws on the resources of rhetoric (i.e., logos, pathos, ethos) to invent content, responds to the needs of the audience, addresses high level concerns: purpose, effective research, knowledge of topic
Structure (arrangement). The report is organized logically and persuasively; partitions the content into major sections; divides each major section into three parts (intro, body, conclusion); adopts an appropriate organizational strategy (e.g., narrative, causal, problem-solution). Strong purpose statement; context of logical and detailed argument or exploration, effective paragraph organization
Design (Delivery)Document design, adherence to HATS*, professional pages, accurate visuals. The report adheres to standards of effective document design, which, of course, change depending on the medium you’re using.
Style adheres to the standards of the plain language; strikes a balance between the plain style and the persuasive style; follows conventional standards of grammar and mechanics; uses a discipline-appropriate citation style. Sentence-level organization, prose, punctuation mechanics
Context/situation Show awareness of the document’s purpose, audience’s needs and viewpoint; effectively describes the rhetorical situation; connect to a problem-solving point of view.
Writing in Context
Analyze cultures, social contexts, and audiences to determine how they shape the various purposes and forms of writing, such as persuasion, organizational communication, and public discourse, with an emphasis on:
- writing for a range of defined audiences and stakeholders
- negotiating the ethical dimensions of rhetorical action
This course will take on challenging questions about science and technology. We will endeavor to discuss both the course materials and our responses to them in a respectful manner. In this community of thinkers demonstrating your maturity will be paramount, as will an agreement to consider our classroom as a productive space for expression and critique. When engaging in discussions, think not only about your own contributions, but also about the overall classroom dynamic: who is speaking more, who less? How might you contribute to an atmosphere that enables everyone to participate meaningfully?
All assignments are due on the dates indicated and will be available the week prior and submitted through Canvas. Never via email. If you anticipate that your assignment will be late, please reach out to me ahead of time so we can work out some accommodation. My philosophy is to accept ALL your work as assigned and completed. Please ask for an extension if you need one. The assignments are broken down in these modules:
- Science Writing, Rhetoric, and Practice 25%
- Ethics and Science (25%)
- Accommodating Science (25%)
- Research Proposal (25%)
We will use a contract grading system, which includes revision as part of the writing process. You'll revise your drafts in response to peer review and instructor's comments before you turn in the final draft of major projects. Locate the revision process here.
Refer to UW's numerical grading system.
Access and Accommodations
Your experience in this class is important to me. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or disability.uw.edu. 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.
“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.
The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at https://www.washington.edu/studentconduct/
Here's what you can do to cover yourself against plagiarism or collusion:
- At any stage of your writing, keep your drafts, notes, papers, and research materials. If a question of plagiarism arises, you'll have a paper trail ( paper trails protect you in a variety of academic, public, and work-related contexts)
- Don't use editing services. Don't ask anyone, even family or friends, to edit your paper or help you write it. You need to do that work yourself.
- If you need additional help with your writing, contact the University Writing Center, UW Writes, where trained professionals are there to help you without colluding in plagiarism.
- Last but not least, ask me if you have any questions about honesty.
Guidance To Students Taking Courses Outside the U.S.
Faculty members at U.S. universities – including the University of Washington – have the right to academic freedom which includes presenting and exploring topics and content that other governments may consider to be illegal and, therefore, choose to censor. Examples may include topics and content involving religion, gender and sexuality, human rights, democracy and representative government, and historic events.
If, as a UW student, you are living outside of the United States while taking courses remotely, you are subject to the laws of your local jurisdiction. Local authorities may limit your access to course material and take punitive action towards you. Unfortunately, the University of Washington has no authority over the laws in your jurisdictions or how local authorities enforce those laws.
If you are taking UW courses outside of the United States, you have reason to exercise caution when enrolling in courses that cover topics and issues censored in your jurisdiction. If you have concerns regarding a course or courses that you have registered for, please contact your academic advisor who will assist you in exploring options.
The IWP's 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 member Rush Daniel at email@example.com or IWP Program Director Carrie Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.