Advanced Technical Communication in Public Health

Course Details

  • Acronym ENV H 520
  • Instructor(s) Deborah Illman
  • Quarter Autumn 2017
  • Credits 3
  • Meeting Times MW 3:30 - 4:50pm
  • Location HSB I132
  • Fullfills GCeCS communication seminar

Course Description

This course focuses on written and oral communication for environmental health and public health professionals, with particular emphasis on three main areas:

  • conveying information more effectively to technical audiences,
  • translating that information for general audiences in the public arena, and
  • crafting effective commentary or opinion pieces relating to topics of professional interest.

We will explore the principles of effective writing for technical articles, proposals, and reports with attention to structure, clarity, style, and language usage. Students learn to craft an executive summary of a research report for technical audiences.  They develop greater agility as writers by translating that same content into the form of a press release that could be disseminated to broader audiences through the media and the Web.

Students explore issues in public communication of science and framing of science issues. They gain a greater familiarity with the societal context for environmental health and public health developments and learn to distill the essence of an issue for headlines and short spots. As an exercise in translating science for broader audiences, they will research and write a news article on a research or policy topic. Students will then explore what makes an effective commentary, examining issues of content, structure, and tone, and will write a “Policy Forum” style piece on a current issue of their choice.

The course is designed to build communication proficiency through a combination of writing and revising assignments, selected readings, lecture/discussion sessions, oral presentations, and hands-on activities. On selected assignments, students will have the opportunity to share drafts with the group, to practice their reviewing skills, and to receive feedback from classmates and the instructor. Students completing the class will have several professional writing samples to add to their portfolios.