This free skills development course is designed to help Northwestern PhD trainees write clearly and speak confidently about their own research, providing a solid foundation for future pursuits in science writing and communication.
In this small seminar, students hone their writing skills through authentic writing assignments for general readers, with dedicated editorial feedback and support from faculty and professional writers. Over ten weeks, students learn a variety of techniques and best practices in popular science writing including narrative, interviews, and article structure, but many core skills also transfer other writing practices. Guest speakers and professional science writers will provide insights into science writing careers and opportunities. Guest editors from outlets like Discover Magazine will provide one-on-one writing feedback and support.
Course alumni have been published by Discover, Vox, Chicago Botanical Gardens, and HELIX. (Further details of their pieces are profiled here.)
Donna Leff, Professor, Medill School of Journalism
Patti Wolter, Associate Professor, Medill School of Journalism
Sara Grady, Editor, HELIX magazine
Course Credit: Offered for zero credit, graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory
Cost: This course is underwritten by The Graduate School as an opportunity for professional development. Accepted Northwestern students will attend free of charge.
Format: Classes run one evening per week for 10 weeks. Most weeks will include a core writing assignment/exercise, assigned readings and a guest speaker from a related profession. Students will need to bring a laptop to complete in-class writing exercises.
Location: All classes take place on the Evanston campus.
This course is designed for full-time, PhD-track STEM+ graduate students at Northwestern. At this time, we are not considering applications from postdoctoral fellows or Master's degree students or PhD candidates from other institutions.
Relevant fields of study include Anthropology, Chemistry, Communication Sciences & Disorders, Computer Science, Engineering, Life Sciences, Math, Physics, and Psychology.
Priority will be given to students entering the 3rd or 4th year of PhD study.
Graduate students must apply via the online application form, which includes a short essay.
Where applicable a student’s most recent Versant English language test score will be considered.