Sustainability Writing course prepares students for green careers

As part of the college?s commitment to sustainability, Penn State Berks has added a course in Sustainability Writing for the fall semester. This course will help students in a variety of majors to prepare for careers in professional and technical writing in the ?green? industry.

Dr. Christian Weisser, Associate Professor of English and Coordinator of the Professional Writing degree program, developed and is teaching the course, which is the first of its kind in the Penn State University system. The course examines the ways in which sustainability and environmentalism have been shaped and defined through a variety of literary, scientific, technical, political, and popular texts. Class discussions will trace the roots of sustainability in environmental writing; analyze the diverse debates surrounding sustainability; and consider local, national, and international texts about sustainability.

Weisser explains that the course is unique in several ways. First, it combines two sections of English to provide an interdisciplinary look at a complex, multifaceted subject. Second, students in the class have been given a free e-version of Weisser?s new textbook, which is scheduled for publication with Bedford/St. Martin?s Press in February 2014. Students have the unique opportunity to ?test drive? this new textbook on the emerging subject of sustainability. And third, the class uses computer technology as part of its sustainable focus. The course is entirely paperless; all assignments and projects are distributed electronically.

The class also serves as a pilot of an iPad initiative in the Professional Writing major?each student in the class will receive an iPad for the final eight weeks of the semester to conduct research, complete writing assignments, and communicate electronically with other class members.

One primary goal of the course is to move student writing beyond the confines of the traditional essay or report. Students in the class will create a video documenting sustainability efforts on campus, engage with invited guest speakers, conduct expert interviews, participate in field research on environmental texts in local communities and institutions, contribute to a class blog, and produce a range of texts addressing sustainability.

Weisser?s new textbook can be viewed online:

For more information on the Sustainability Writing course, contact Weisser at 610-396-6416 or via e-mail at [email protected] .