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WCWP 10A: The Writing Course A

Introduction to Academic Argumentation

The purpose of the Warren Writing sequence is to enable undergraduate students, through intensive practice, to read and write academic arguments in preparation for their work in various academic disciplines. It is required of all Warren College students.

Prerequisite:  Satisfaction of the university Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR) also known as Subject A.  Open to Warren College students only. (Letter grade only.)

Each year, all classes focus on a single topic for the 10A course, and writing assignments are consistent across all 10A sections. The topic for 2018-2019 is "The Ethics of Climate Change Communication." 


It is highly recommended you take 10A as soon as you are able to. Our classes tend to get impacted and since 10A, 10B, 27, and 28 need to be completed in sequence, the sooner you take 10A the less likely you are to incur delays in your GE progression.


2018-2019 Topic: "Climate Change Communication"

Required Texts:  Axelrod and Cooper, The Concise St. Martin’s Guide to Writing, 8th Edition - available at the UCSD bookstore
*Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt, 2011 *digital copy required, will be available for purchase through TritonEd only

Across the globe, nearly all climate scientists agree that climate change is an urgent, human-caused problem that must be addressed with a variety of strategies as soon as possible. In its 2015 system-wide report, Bending the Curve (2015), the University of California made the case that all of its campuses, including our own, can serve as “living laboratories” by helping to develop and share the best practices for reducing the effects of climate change. However, scientific consensus does not mean that most Americans believe that global warming is a reality. According to a study by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, while 71% of all Americans believe that climate change is occurring, only 54% believe that it is caused by human actions. In other words, nearly half of all Americans disagree with scientific consensus.

More specifically, the Yale Study also identifies that there are six “unique audiences” or “Six Americas” representing a spectrum of differences regarding climate change. On one end of the spectrum, there are those who believe that climate change is a problem but disagree regarding how important it is to take action at the present time. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who question the existence of human-caused climate change, and are unmotivated, if not outright opposed, to taking action. Why does such disagreement exist? What are the causes and effects of this culture of skepticism?

In the first half of the class, we will use Yale’s study as the starting point for our analysis of critical thinking, reading and writing strategies. Students will analyze and explore many historical, political and cultural causes and effects involved with climate change “doubt.” We will think critically about this research and use our ideas to compose an “explanatory” writing project. In the second unit, we will turn our attention to communicating and taking action. What strategies work best for communicating with certain audiences? What are the most ethical ways to communicate? Students will analyze existing research for communicating ethical and effective messages about climate change to the “Six Americas.” We will then work in groups to apply that knowledge by composing a portfolio of texts for different audiences. The unit will conclude with class presentations and a rhetorical self-analysis project.

By exploring the complexities of climate change communication, we aim to teach students about the important roles that written and visual texts play in shaping our understanding of complex academic and cultural conversations. In each assignment we develop, special attention will be paid to building on students’ rhetorical knowledge, including how best to write in different genres, for different purposes and audiences, using different strategies. It is our hope that students will apply what they have learned in our classes to succeed in the many other courses and contexts they will engage in throughout their academic careers.


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