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Writing 20

This page features writing from first-year students enrolled in this class from 2003-2004 -- scroll down to view their work!

Course description:
The popularity of science magazines such as Science News, Scientific American, and Discover has increased dramatically in recent years. Similarly, there has been a prolific increase in the quantity and popularity of book-length translations of science by such authors as Jane Goodall, Isaac Asimov, Stephen J. Gould, and Carl Sagan. This increase in demand for scientific information begs the question: How is science communicated to the public? Specifically, how do writers present abstract or complex scientific subjects to a general audience? In acknowledging the difficulty of this task, Albert Einstein once wrote, "Either (writers) succeed in being intelligible by offering only superficial aspects, or (they) give an expert account in such a fashion that the untrained reader is unable to follow." In this class, we will examine what happens to scientific information when it is written for a general audience. Can science writers avoid the pitfalls of oversimplification and obfuscation? What changes occur in the language used and the assumptions made? Are the changes significant? Is accuracy compromised? Not only will students examine how published authors communicate science to the public, but students will also use their writing to engage and inform audiences about an aspect of science that interests them.

Students in Dr. Reynolds' class were interviewed for a feature in the Duke Chronicle -- click here to read the text!
Scientific Integrity in Policy Making
Science that affects you!
Science, Sex, and Gender
Science and Hollywood
The Devil's Advocate: A First-Year Student's Survival Guide to Life at Duke
From Einstein to Evolution: Eleven misconceptions of science every college student should know about
Beyond 2003:  Scientific advancements in our lifetimes
The science behind Duke basketball