Honors | Going Public: Writing Health and Healthcare in the U.S. (ENG)
W350 | 2915 | Joan Linton


TuTh 11:15am-12:30pm
WH 109

This course aims to cultivate the public communicator and social
entrepreneur in students in addressing issues of health and health
care in the United States. It invites students to integrate
community service with academic learning in expanding their skills
in writing, persuasion, and critical analysis, and research.
In “going public” with their writing, students gain awareness of the
power of language—and of story—in creating and transforming publics,
and the responsibility that comes with public writing, whether it is
to manage and disseminate information or to present a problem and
propose a solution.

Readings and discussions will cover a range of issues related to
health and healthcare in the United States, from the personal,
motivational aspects of being and staying healthy, to health
literacy and education, to problems with insurance and health care
as a system. In addressing these issues and problems, the work of
Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom on managing the commons, and writings
from other public intellectuals on social entrepreneurship, will
provide a framework for reflection, as students learn to think about
community resources as a health commons, about collective action as
essential to democratic participation, and about ways to organize
complex systems.

The service experience will provide students with real-world
contexts and audiences for their writing. For example, in helping to
educate clients about specific diseases and health conditions,
students will learn to translate complex and often technical
information into everyday language that is easy to follow and
empathetic in tone. To this end, readings in public communications
research will enable students to develop strategies appropriate to
the demands of the topic in question. Finally, students will also
have the opportunity through individual or group research to explore
possibilities for collective action that enable individuals and
families to co-produce their own health within their communities,
local and extended, as a key component to improving health and
healthcare in the United States.

In addition to active participation in class discussion and idea
forums, students will undertake: (1) a series of critical
reflections (2 pages each) integrating their service, readings, and
research; (2) a group service-writing project for their chosen
community agency, and (3) a problem-based research project,
resulting in a term paper (8-10 pages). Student will individually
assemble a portfolio of their writings, rethinking ideas and
revising writing throughout the course (and possibly beyond).