From the Ground Up: Writing Natural History
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Natural history is the scientific study of animals and plants based on observation. Through written and visual storytelling - scientific papers, poetry and spoken word arts, field notes, journalism - we will consider how natural history helps us understand the living world of our past, present and future. Science writers engage the public with critical issues such as climate change, health equity, food sustainability, environmental justice, and related systems of privilege and inequity. Crucial individual and collective decisions must be based on good scientific research, and effective science writing through a variety of genres is often a catalyst between scientists, the public, and policy makers.
In this writing-intensive program, we will consider what science is and how it works, explore natural history including that of the Pacific Northwest, and work toward developing a scientific perspective on some current major issues, such as global climate change. We will work toward developing skills to communicate information and concepts using verbal and graphic representations and equations.
Our work will include reading and writing natural history/science journalism, poetry, and spoken word written for a general audience, and contrasted with scientific papers written by and for scientists. Winter quarter our central questions will include what is lost in the scientific process when written for a non-science audience? What is gained? What are the strengths and limitations of scientific papers written for specialized audiences? Spring quarter we will explore questions such as what is the relationship between science and the literary arts? How do we share space with the natural world in our poetry and spoken word? How do beauty, tension, and conflict intersect? Both winter and spring quarters will include field trips in the area to experience, view, and write about a variety of habitats, including riparian forests, seashore, and human-designed gardens.
The first quarter of this program will serve as a foundation for advanced study or work in natural history, science writing, poetry, and journalism, poetry. The second quarter will include possibilities for intermediate and advanced work in natural history and the students' chosen writing genre. Students will become better readers and writers of science, be able to evaluate science in various media and among literary arts circles, and to appreciate the importance of natural history writing to everyone’s health and well-being by connecting with our environment.
Credits equivalencies may be be awarded in natural history, poetics, and science journalism.
This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:
Science, natural history, environmental studies, writing and communications, journalism, education, public policy, government, nonprofits.
Class Size: 50
Scheduled for: Evening and Weekend
Located in: Olympia