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Welcome to Research Writing.
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I’m Sarah Stanley, instructor for this course. If you need me, get in touch. Keep on reading for more about the course.

To get started in this course:

  1. Send an email by September 1st to sstanley2@alaska.edu. Please use your preferred email address and include your name in the email. This will help me know that you made it here. I’ll use your email address to give you access to the “Let’s Talk About It” section of this course (linked in the menu bar above).
  2. For your reference, take a look at our syllabus and course schedule. For downloadable versions: syllabus | course schedule
  3. Consider the assumptions and rationale below. When you’ve thought this over, you can begin the course at our cabin in the woods (also linked in the menu above).

Course Assumptions and Rationale:

This course makes two important assumptions that will guide our work and collaborations throughout the semester:

  1. Research is a Project of People: Research Writing attracts students from a variety of disciplines. Each discipline has its own style, vocabulary, ways of thinking about a problem, and more. This course builds on that inherent strength by assuming that each of the students enrolled in Research Writing has a unique and diverse way of thinking about a problem that travels across the disciplines: Climate Change.
  2. Research is Generational Dialogue: The research process is humbling, ongoing, multiple. The more you learn about the projects of other people and how they approached the problem or imagined the problem (past studies), the more innovative you will become in your own contribution (current study), the more potential you uncover for improving the lives of the people for whom the research is ongoing and important (impacts).

Course Rationale

This course encourages less disciplinarity in communicating about climate change findings, problems, and solutions. Experiences in the 2015-2016 Academic Year first encouraged me to redesign this course so that it focuses on a public problem or shared experience rather than to allow students enrolled to determine the thematics of the course based on individual research interest. I taught the course with this method last Fall, and have made some changes to how it works thanks to the excellent students who helped me see more possibility in collaboration and exchange. I also have begun to do more community based research in social-ecological resilience theory. One story I’ll share:

In October, I travelled with five colleagues to a Community and Writing conference in Boulder, Colorado. We presented on Alaska as a particular place to live and learn as teachers. In particular, our presentation was unconventional as the five us engaged in a round robin format of telling stories about living and teaching in Alaska. Story became more and more prominent in how I thought about not just teaching and learning, but purposeful communication.  Then, after the conference, my collaborators and I decided to translate our presentation into an article for a themed journal about the global threat of Climate Change and teaching writing. In this research, we noticed that the story being told about Climate Change from outsider perspectives was different from what we were finding online about climate futures, resilience, and traditional ecological knowledge; in the public story, Alaska was a victim. We submitted the article at the end of February, right before I spent my Spring Break volunteering for Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW). That version of our article was not accepted (like many writing projects what you imagine they will be, grow into something else), but having written it, the gathering of Arctic scientists, policy makers, educators, students who attended ASSW reminded me of why it matters. In fact, the times (I have three in mind over the last three years–a grant competition, a Fulbright, and this article)  I’ve failed  have generated so many more collaborations and open ended possibility. Please keep trying–the pieces of your process will come back. Try. Try Again.

Synthesizing this experience, I arrive at the central motive for me in teaching this class: I want to encourage more interactive dialogue when communicating with public, less technical audiences. In order to be successful about this communication, motives will need to be clear.

What if I have no idea how my discipline relates to climate change?
Schedule an appointment with me right away.

What if the topic doesn’t interest me?
A semester spent engaging with climate change scholarship in your discipline will benefit you as you conceptualize future research projects in your discipline. Funders don’t like to fund projects simply because we don’t have the answer. You have to make your research problem relevant to outside groups. Plus, finding out what DOES interest you even in a focus like this is good for pushing your creative-critical brain. I’d like to listen and act as a sounding board–sometimes this helps you generate ideas.

What if I had in mind that I could use Research Writing as a workshop for a larger writing project?
A shared focus will increase mastery. You will learn more from each other’s writing and this is the best way to improve as a writer. You may also find in your classmates willing workshop partners who will be able to take your experience working together in this class to projects you are working on outside of it. Let’s connect.