Our Course

Academic Writing, Spring 2024

HONS 110.17 [ONLINE ASYNCHRONOUS] + Required One-on-One Conferences

Professor Anton Vander Zee

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This course is about sustainable futures: your world’s, your community’s, and your own. Although loosely themed around questions of what it means to live and work sustainably, this is fundamentally a course about writing: analyzing it, understanding its contexts, exploring its modalities, and composing it in various environments.

More specifically, this course asks you to think about writing as a process, a series of conscious choices used to craft an appropriate response to the variety of tasks and situations that you will encounter as a writer. One way that we will cultivate this awareness is by engaging scholarly texts about writing and undertaking a variety of projects that ask you to understand and deploy important concepts you can use in the classroom and beyond such as reading like a writer, literacies, the rhetorical situation, disciplinarity and genre.

Sustainability, then, enters the picture less as a set of need-to-know facts and concepts and more of a flexible guide that will help you focus your approach to the major projects in this course, all of which will relate to artifacts, debates, and academic conversations of your own choosing.

While we often think about sustainability in an environmental sense, this course will view sustainability much more broadly, encompassing not only environmental but also economic and social considerations, and focusing on personal aspects of sustainability as well. In this sense, a sustainability-based approach this class is focused on what makes individuals and communities thrive and what holds them back. In this sense, things like social justice, mental health, mindfulness, and educational matters are just as important and relevant to sustainability as climate change and clean energy policy. This is all to say: you can find a place to reflect and write about what’s most important to you–your possible academic field, your personal interests, your community engagements–in this course.

An Online Experience

This course will combine asynchronous online tasks with four virtual/Zoom or in-person conferences that will unfold in real time. These meetings will take place in relation to completed drafts for our major assignments. I will also be available for virtual or in-person office hours. We will be sharing our work with one another both on this course blog (for final drafts) and on OAKS (for rough drafts and discussion posts). The schedule will be available in both OAKS and on the course website.

Required Readings:

All readings will be linked through, or available for download on, our course blog. Protected readings are available in OAKS.

Overview and Objectives

Course-Specific Learning Outcomes


Introductory SLO: Reading Like a Writer

We will practice describing our own writing and that of others as a series of intentional writerly choices grounded in a clear sense of audience, purpose, and genre that shape the meaning of any given text.

Module 1 SLOs: Reflecting on Your Sustainability Literacy

We will summarize and paraphrase college-level essays and academic articles.

We will identify the key internal and external facets of sustainability, including the 3 Es (economy, equity, environment) and the 3 Cs (creativity, compassion, consciousness).

We will recognize the importance of specific “literacies” in shaping our ability to engage the world.

We will relate our knowledge of, and experience with, sustainability as a shaping force in our own lives.

Module 2 SLOs: Exploring Sustainability in Professional and Cultural Contexts

We will be able to identity a text’s rhetorical situation, including its competing exigencies, its intended and unintended audience, audience, and its contextual and generic constraints.

We will be able to identify, in a range of texts, the means of persuasion related to emotional, logical, and character-based appeals as well as to core concepts of sustainability

We will be able to discern whether a text–given its rhetorical situation, persuasive strategies, and relationship to key ideas of sustainability–presents a fitting response to its rhetorical situation.

Module 3 SLOs: Exploring Sustainability Academic Contexts

We will demonstrate key information-literacy and library-research skills, which include the ability to assess a source’s credibility and use a range of databases and search tools to access relevant primary and secondary sources.

We will orchestrate a dynamic and focused academic conversation for a mainstream audience.

Module 4 SLOs: Engaging New Audiences

We will remediate the content or knowledge related to from a previous assignment in a new genre strategically chosen and performed in light of new exigencies, audiences, and / or constraints.

This course is designed to satisfy the following program and General Education Student Learning Outcomes:

General Education Student Learning Outcomes

As a course that fulfills the general education first-year writing requirement, English 110 has the following learning outcomes:

  • Students analyze a source’s rhetorical situation
  • Students substantiate claims with evidence

These outcomes will be assessed using Project 2: Rhetorical Situation Analysis

Note: there are no prerequisites or corequisites for this course

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