undergraduate section

PPW Course Descriptions

These are sample course descriptions for PPW courses. The teacher of the section for which you register will provide a more detailed description of the class when it begins.

ENGCMP 400. Written Professional Communication

In this course we will examine the contexts for and rhetorical dimensions of a variety of professional documents, including those documents students produce in the course itself. Major assignments include a set of career materials (resume, cover letter, career report); a correspondence packet that addresses a conflict; a proposal; and a longer report based on research and analysis. As we engage in this work we will explore the nature of professionalism, common features and efforts (enabling and disabling) of professional discourse, and strategies for negotiating the "borders" of specialized and non-specialized discourse. This course is offered Fall, Spring, and Summer terms and during both Summer sessions.

ENGCMP 410. Writing in the Legal Professions   

This course focuses on the rhetoric of law and the ways that legal texts create a culture and a world through the language and arguments they employ. Students interested in law, rhetoric, and questions of cultural construction should find this course of interest. The course will use literacy texts and the works of legal scholars to consider how arguments, evidence, testimony, assertions, assumptions and judgments constitute a set of public issues and values. This course is offered during Fall and Spring terms. It is sometimes offered during a summer session as well.

ENGCMP 420. Writing for the Public    

This course explores the theory and practice of writing that serves the public interest. Public writing is crucial in the nonprofit sector, serving every kind of cause: safety and health, political activism, the environment, animal rights, the arts. It also takes the form of writing that facilitates communication between government and its policies and those people who are impacted by those policies. Many of those who write for the public are working to make a difference in the world. The course will explore the ethics of writing for the public, the impact of rhetorical contexts on writing, and how writing and revision can allow you to understand a problem or issue in a new way. We'll use examples of public writing, theoretical articles, and the work of students in the class to inform our discussion. Students can expect to write proposals; press kits; editorials; informational Web sites; articles; and complex documents that incorporate photos and other visual elements, sidebars, and feature articles. Since we will see writing as part of a conversation with a larger world, students will report on an event they attend, interview a professional in a field that interests them, and identify and regularly read on or more sources of information: professional journals, media outlets, research studies, or other materials. This course is offered during Fall and Spring terms and during a Summer session.

ENGCMP 510. Narratives of the Workplace   

This course invites students to examine, in writing and through class discussion, the diverse workplace narratives that appear in poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and contemporary film and television. Students will write about the ways in which these narratives apply to, or affect, the contemporary world of work, addressing questions such as: Where do our ideas and perceptions about work come from? What do we learn about the culture of certain work, professional or otherwise, from these narratives? What are the distinctions between professional and working class positions and do they still apply? What role do corporate narratives play in contemporary society and how do they serve to govern the workplace and the educational experiences students gain in school and in college? The course will also ask students to consider the kinds of work and workplace cultures they expect to enter when they graduate, and to explore the implicit connections between education and work. This course fulfills a W requirement. Coursework includes a series of papers, annotated readings, and a final documentary project. This course is offered occasionally.

ENGCMP 515. Persuasive Writing in Advertising and Fundraising    

How can we best communicate with others in order to persuade them? How can we promote a position or product while maintaining high ethical standards? Advertising and fundraising require the same kinds of persuasive work, though they serve different rhetorical contexts; advertising takes place in for-profit settings, while fundraising takes place in nonprofit settings. Both attempt to influence the decisions people make about the money they spend, the attitudes they have, and the issues that shape our society. In this course, students will analyze and create the kinds of persuasive writing used in the fields of fundraising and advertising. Coursework will involve readings, discussion, brief papers that analyze and critique work done in the fields, a presentation to the class, and an original written project that can become part of a student's portfolio to show prospective employers. Students will have opportunities to have their work reviewed in class, to participate in discussions with people currently working in the fields, and to revise their written pieces for a final portfolio. This course is offered during Fall and Spring terms.

ENGCMP 520. Integrating Writing and Design  

This course allows students to explore the rhetorical implications of design and invites students to consider design and writing as an integrated process. The class will alternate lecture/discussion sessions with studio sessions, so that students can learn how to use Adobe InDesign to create both single- and multi-paged documents for particular rhetorical contexts. Students will also learn how to manipulate images in Adobe Photoshop so that they will better serve their purposes. Our classes will focus on theory of writing and design, critique and analysis of documents that students create, and critique and analysis of documents created by professionals. Students will write and design a resume and cover letter; write analyses of professional examples they find especially problematic or compelling; create brief, fully designed argument pieces conceptualized in two different ways; create a poster; replicate and revise existing professionally produced examples; and propose, write, and design a multi-paged designed document to accomplish a specific outcome for a particular audience. This class assumes that students are comfortable with using a computer and with learning new software. The course is offered during Spring term and Summer session 1.

ENGCMP 550. Topics in Public and Professional Writing

This topics course is intended for students beginning the Public and Professional Writing Certificate, and as a writing-intensive course for students fulfilling general education requirements or interested in writing as a subject as well as a mode of instruction. The course will focus on varied topics, addressing different forms and environments for public and professional writing. Possible topics include: "Rhetorics of Health and Welfare," "Writing and Environmental Politics," and "Electronic Publishing." Students will read examples of public and professional writing, as well as texts selected to raise questions about the public sphere, the work environment, and forms of writing. Students will work closely with the written texts prepared by their colleagues. Students will write regular short responses to assigned readings or distributed student papers, three 5-6 page essays (submitted as draft, then revised in response to instructor and peer comments), and prepare a final portfolio with a reflective essay on writing. This course is offered occasionally, with varied focus on specific topics in Public and Professional Writing.

ENGCMP 600. Introduction to Technical Writing

This course will explore the ways that writing supports work in scientific and technical fields. Through a variety of assignments incorporating both written and visual formats, students in this course will learn effective strategies for responding to communication challenges, with special emphasis on audience analysis, document design, communication ethics, collaboration, professional style, and editing. You can expect to develop your ability to organize and craft information for manuals, journal articles, and reports and to learn about document design, production principles, interactive documentation, and desktop publishing. Technical writers are crucial for fields in engineering, software, and the sciences. Successful technical writers are good at translating science and technology for various audiences, including non-experts such as the end users of a product or customers who are willing to pay for technical solutions for a problem. Experts who work in technical and scientific fields can also benefit from familiarity and practice in technical writing.

ENGCMP 610. Composing Digital Media

This course requires students to compose digital media while exploring the rhetorical, poetic, and political implications of multiple writing platforms. Students will learn how to compose a range of critical media objects using web-authoring languages, text, sound, images, and video in proprietary and open-source software. Classes will focus on theories of writing, composing, design, critique, delivery, and networked distributions; critique and analysis of digital media produced by professional and amateur digital media practitioners; and analysis and revisions of digital media composed by the students themselves.

ENGCMP 1100. Language of Business & Industry   

Companies want your attention. You are a consumer of products and services. You represent a prospective employee. You could become a shareholder. So companies reach out to you through advertising, annual reports, blogs, brochures, newsletters, podcasts, promotions, and websites, among other means. And as companies are seeking your attention, they can’t ignore other audiences—current employees, investors, government officials, and the media, for example—who are critical to their success. Companies have plenty to talk about—-their brand, vision, values, new products or services, job openings, employment benefits, financial results, social responsibility efforts—depending on who is listening. In this class, you will examine how companies create their identity through language. You will actively explore five “languages”: employment, marketing, culture, results, and social responsibility. You will study good business writing and apply these techniques in several writing assignments. For example, you will produce a report analyzing the employment brand of two companies where you would like to work after graduation. In a different assignment focused on corporate social responsibility, you will create original communications for a selected company. This course is offered during Fall term.

ENGCMP 1101. Language of Science and Technology   

In this course students will learn about and practice skills essential to effective, responsible communication within and from scientific and technical disciplines/fields. Students will become familiar with best communication practices within their immediate fields and with effective practices for communicating to important constituencies outside of their immediate fields. Course work will involve hands-on practice in creating documents such as proposals, abstracts, executive summaries, instructions, and informational articles/brochures. Students will analyze, draft, and revise various types of reports--geared towards both scientific/technical and lay audiences--including progress reports, informational reports, assessment reports, and focused technical reports. User-friendly document and information design will be discussed and practiced. Students will learn about and compose multimedia documents and will organize and participate in professional communications via video and chat applications. This course is appropriate for students who have some experience with written professional communication, and who are interested in furthering the communication skills that are crucial to maximizing professionalism and impact within and surrounding scientific and technical writing. This course is offered during Spring term.

ENGCMP 1103 Public Relations Writing

This course focuses on how nonprofits, governments, associations and companies build good will and develop relationships with their various publics, both in and outside of the organization. Students explore a variety of methods including media releases, public service announcements, event planning, house ads, brochures, newsletters, corporate image pieces, displays, web pages and other forms of online communication. The course also discusses public opinion, social responsibility and crisis management. The major project for the term is a public communications campaign. This course is offered during Fall and Spring term.

ENGCMP 1104 Creative Corporate Writing

This course exposes students to advanced public relations writing, creative problem-solving, and other related skills required of corporate communications professionals such as special events planning, media relations, speechwriting, crisis communications, electronic communications, and stakeholder communications. Assignments may incorporate both written and visual communications for a single product/event. Both individual and group assignments are designed to simulate real world environments and dynamics.

ENGCMP 1111. Professional Writing in Global Contexts    

In order to create effective and powerful documents for diverse global audiences, students need to be able to negotiate the expectations, assumptions, conventions, and professional practices of different cultures. This course will help advanced undergraduate students better understand what is at stake in writing for international audiences, how to research issues relating to communication (and especially the use of English) in global contexts, and how to write professional publications for particular international audiences. In this course, students will learn the following: to think critically and to analyze various approaches related to the use of English on a global scale; to shape their writing to account for high- and low-context cultures; to engage with challenges associated with language and translation; to effectively engage with a range of rhetorical moves to persuade a multi-cultural audience; and to account for writing issues like style, tone, clarity, document design, and specialized language in international contexts. This course is offered during Spring term.

ENGCMP 1112 Professional Uses of Social Media

Many college students use social media in their daily lives to connect with friends and family, get news, shop, document aspects of their lives, and follow activities of people and organizations that matter to them. This course explores what it means to use social media as a professional in support of your own career or in support of the goals of a business or organization for which you work. By the end of this course, students will be able to describe the evolution of digital communication, significant turns, and likely future directions; discuss a variety of social media platforms and their ideal functionalities; critically discuss the professional uses of social media; identify differences between personal and professional use of social media and digital communication; develop a unique, reliable, consistent voice across a variety of platforms; develop and sharpen writing skills in order to tell stories through the contemporary lens of social media; design and implement a social media strategy; develop the adaptivity and flexibility that will allow writers to engage with new platforms and new audiences; identify and explore the rhetorical dimensions of social media; and execute significant and purposeful revision in writing.

ENGCMP 1151 Professional Editing in Context

This course focuses on editing as a professional activity. We will explore the whole range of editorial work, including developmental editing, substantive editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Special attention will be given to the editor as the person who mediates the relationship between author and reader. Students will learn about the editing process and will edit texts, reflect on the process, and hone their ability to work on language at the sentence level. The course will introduce students to the Chicago Manual of Style as well as other styles. Students will engage in research related to editing and their career plans and will assemble a portfolio for the class. This advanced course is intended for students who are pursuing the PPW certificate, as well as other students interested in careers in writing, editing, or publishing.

ENGCMP 1250. Advanced Topics in Public and Professional Writing    

This advanced topics course is intended for juniors and seniors who are pursuing the Public and Professional Writing Certificate, as well as other students interested in courses in advanced writing. The course will focus on varied topics, addressing theoretical, social, or historical issues of writing in public and professional environments. Possible topics include: “Polemic and Public Discourse,” “Work and Rhetorics of Class,” “Writing in an Electronic Age,” “Women, Writing, and the Public Sphere.” Students will read a range of texts selected to contextualize concerns about writing, rhetoric, professional discourses, and the public. Students will write short responses to assigned readings, two 5–6 page essays, and will develop a project leading to a substantial written essay and an oral presentation. The course will also focus intensively on the students’ writing. This course is offered occasionally, with varied focus on specific topics in Public and Professional Writing.

ENGCMP 1400. Grant and Proposal Writing   

In today's marketplace, proposals produce billions of dollars to help solve problems and support causes that people care about. Grant proposals make possible important research in the natural, behavioral, and social sciences; they enable many to benefit from civic and educational projects; and they benefit community development and fund artistic achievement. Other types of proposals allow people to start businesses, create change on the job, and define projects that meet the needs of particular audiences. This course will allow students to understand the functions and conventions of proposals, the types of research that they require, and the processes that generate them and lead to approval. Students will focus on two main issues: developing a proposal (which includes activities such as defining needs, reviewing existing projects and literature, and, if seeking a grant, researching sources of funds) and writing a proposal with a specific audience in mind. Coursework will help students develop an understanding of proposal writing from an initial idea through final submission. Students will complete a variety of written pieces leading up to the final proposal, which may be valuable in their employment portfolios. Upon completion of this course, students will have acquired the research and writing skills necessary to write successful proposals. This course is offered during  Fall and Spring term.

ENGCMP 1410. Advanced Research and Documentary Writing    

This course will focus on research as it supports those who write professionally. In particular, we are going to explore long projects that take up a subject and study it in some depth using observation, interviews and surveys as well as online and library research. The term "research" refers to substantially different activities in different professional settings. We will spend time looking at three particular types of research: literary journalism devoted to creating social change; research-based projects that attempt to create change in corporate practices such as management, customer relationships, and ethics; and documentary work that is designed to raise awareness, provoke conversation, and honor human and humane activity. All three of these areas yield many long and short projects—books and articles and scripts—that are created in the hope that the final product will have a real impact in the world. You will study some examples of research as it plays out in several books, articles, and a film documentary, and you'll plan and carry out a research project of your own. This course is offered occasionally.

ENGCMP 1900. Internship: Public and Professional Writing    

Public and Professional Writing (PPW) internships offer you a productive, substantive writing experience in which you learn from and contribute to the sponsoring agency, company, or project. In the internship class, you will learn more professional life and about your own career path. PPW interns spend at least 50 percent of their on-site time writing. Read more about internships >

ENGCMP 1902. Independent Study in Public and Professional Writing (1 to 6 credits)

The independent study option permits students in good academic standing to design Public and Professional Writing courses of their own with the approval of the director of PPW. The independent study must integrate both the theory and practice of some aspect of public and/or professional writing, and the student must conduct research that will allow him or her to contextualize the writing forms and content being studied. Students typically write at least 30 pages (or 7,500 words) over the course of the term, and revision plays a significant role in the student's work. In addition, the student and sponsoring faculty member define a reading list and other required research, which may include interviews or surveys. The student and faculty member will agree on other work, such as essays or documents and a journal or other response to the research. Whenever possible, the student will create a final document that can be used by an intended audience or in a professional portfolio. Students are required to submit a proposal to the director of PPW. This course is offered during Fall and Spring terms. Prerequisite: Students must have completed their composition requirement (ENGCMP 200 or its equivalent) and at least 6 credits above the 300-level in the English department before taking this class. Read more about independent study >

ENGCMP 1903. Service-Learning Seminar PPW (1 credit)   

The Service-Learning Seminar is a one-credit course open to students who are enrolled in a three-credit course offered through the Public and Professional Writing Program during the same term. Students who enroll in the Service-Learning Seminar will gain valuable experience by performing meaningful community service in a local nonprofit organization. The Service-Learning Seminar helps students learn more about workplace professionalism in the nonprofit sector by providing opportunities to carry their reflections on their workplace experiences back to their courses in the program. Participants are required to perform service in an approved nonprofit organization for a minimum of thirty hours, or roughly three hours per week throughout the term. This course is offered during Fall and Spring terms. Read more about service-learning >