Fall 2022 - 60820 - PA 387W - WRITING FOR GLOBAL POLICY



No matter how well you think you write, you can and should do better. There are kinds of writing that you’ll need as a public policy professional that you’ve not done before. If you’ve done a memo, perhaps you’ve not yet given a TED talk. If you’ve managed that, perhaps your op-ed writing needs help. And your team-writing skills can never get too much practice. Through weekly assignments, you’ll draft and submit work for which the instructor, the teaching assistant and the class will offer substantial and personalized constructive criticism. To motivate your writing, the goal at the end of the semester will be to have sufficient materials in your portfolio to secure your dream internship or job next summer. At the start of the course, you’ll be asked to write a reference letter for this job or internship. As the course progresses, you’ll be writing, tweeting, presenting, and developing a bundle of materials which you can present to potential employers. A well written portfolio will demonstrate some fundamental principles of good writing: clarity, concision, persuasiveness, appropriateness. The first few weeks will address the mechanics of communicating within policy organizations, drafting various types of internal documents about the same subject, looking to US government agencies for some basic memo types. We’ll then confront the difficulties of advocacy: when communicating policy “toward the outside,” how can one effectively explain complex policy questions to the public, to the media, and to non-experts? The reading load is light, but students will be expected to spend substantial amounts of time drafting, re- drafting, editing, re-editing, polishing, and re-polishing their writing assignments, and commenting on those of their peers. Although we may touch upon some recurring grammatical problems, this is not a remedial course. We’ll assume that you’ve read a basic textbook on writing style, like Elements of Style, and have flagged anything you find confusing. The goal of the class is to ensure that students understand and apply basic principles of policy-oriented composition and style. Some assignments will need to be completed during class time, to mimic the time pressure frequently faced by policy professionals. Throughout the semester, we will engage in in-class exercises to work on oral communication and presentation skills.

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