COURSE for Fall 2010: Writing about Science & Technology for General Audiences

Fall 2010

Ocean 506 A

Writing about Science & Technology for General Audiences

Schedule: M W, 2:30-3:50

Location: OTB 205

Credits: 3

SLN 17103

Qualifies for “W” credit

Instructor:  Dr. Deborah Illman


Course Description:

This course is designed to introduce upper-division undergraduate and graduate students to science and technology news writing. We explore the science news publishing process and key issues involved in communicating about science and technology with general audiences. Students learn the structure of science news articles and press releases; they examine issues of balance and accuracy; and they study the interactions among technical sources, public information officers, reporters, and readers.

Using case studies taken from the print and broadcast media, we examine ways to treat some of the most difficult problems in communicating technical content to general readers, including issues in experimental design; correlation vs. causation; and evaluating risk.

Students have the opportunity to build their writing portfolios through assignments that treat the news brief, news article, and press release.

Articles may be considered for publication in Northwest Science & Technology magazine( Students completing this class should possess the conceptual understanding as well as the practical experience needed for a position as a science reporter, writer, or editor for a major publication; as a freelance writer; as a communication officer, writer, or editor for a high-technology organization; or as a scientist or engineer who is prepared to interact with members of the media and general public.

Add code required–email the instructor at


Deborah L. Illman, Ph.D.

Senior Fellow, National Science Foundation Discovery Corps 2006-2009

Editor, Northwest Science & Technology University of Washington Seattle, WA 98195-7940