Introducing the Minor in Professional Writing

Have you heard about the new Minor in Professional Writing?

If you haven’t yet, it’s likely that you’re about to hear a lot more in the coming weeks and months. No matter your major or concentration, the courses in the Professional Writing Minor can help you establish the kind of ethos that employers across industries crave: the ability to communicate effectively within and across media and contexts.

All it takes is 15 credits—just five courses—to demonstrate to employers, graduate schools, and even your parents (!) that studying English comes with practical, pragmatic, real-world applications. Serious skills that are seriously valued by potential employers.

Launched in the Fall of 2010, the new Minor in Professional Writing is designed to prepare students from across disciplines in the genres, styles, and practices of communication essential to success in graduate school and industry. Moreover, with its strong focus on writing for Emerging Media environments, the Minor prepares students to work with the digital applications and platforms that dominate contemporary forms of work and play.

Best of all? You may already be on your way to getting a Minor in Professional Writing without even knowing it!

One of the first courses in the Minor is ENG 213, Introduction to Digital Literacies. You may have already taken this course, and it’s foundational to the Minor. ENG 213 is all about people acting with technologies, not the study of technology for technology’s sake. Students in 213 are immersed in writing for digital environments, producing content that’s designed for—and published on—the web.

ENG 231, Professional Writing, is also foundational. This course will teach you the primary genres and conventions of organizational writing and communication. 231 also positions students as researchers, and you’ll have the opportunity to do meaningful qualitative research in collaboration with other students on real world problems that matter. You’ll leave this course with the confidence to tackle a variety of common workplace problems.

We have a brand new course, ENG 329, on Editing and Style. This course will help you refine your writing for a variety of audiences and contexts, giving you not only the skills necessary to produce polished prose (and edit the prose of others), but the logic and rationale for doing so. Alternatively, students selected for ENG 489, the Practicum in Literary Editing and Publishing (working with The Broken Plate) may substitute that course for ENG 329.

For their fourth course, students have the option of choosing from ENG 335, Writing and Reading Public Discourse, or ENG 435, Issues in Rhetoric and Writing, a special topics course that changes each school year. Talk with your advisor about which course might be most appropriate for you.

Finally, the capstone experience for the Minor in Professional Writing is the brand new ENG 431: Rhetoric, Writing, and Emerging Media.

This course extends the work of 213 and 231 (both are prerequisites; if you think you might want to take 431 in the Spring of 2011, talk with Dr. Beach as one or both of the prerequisites may be waived), putting into practice critical theories and approaches to the networked writing activities that support and drive emerging media applications. 431 is also designed to give Professional Writing Minors the freedom and agency to explore problems that matter to them, and that matter in the world, using the tools of the digitally literate to make an impact.

With a Minor in Professional Writing:

  • you’ll learn how to design and develop a variety of common documents;
  • you’ll learn the difference between HTML and CSS (hint: they go together like PB & J) and why they matter in professional communication;
  • you’ll explore applications like Photoshop and learn about why things like typography, lines, and grids matter to organizational image and identity;
  • you’ll look at coding as writing and writing as coding;
  • and you’ll gain a new, critical appreciation for the ways that social networks like Facebook and Twitter matter to professional organizations…

But most of all?

You’ll make cool things. You’ll be able to demonstrate the skills that employers value. You’ll have fun. And you’ll see new ways to make an impact on your world.

What are you waiting for?

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