Open to Gallatin first-year students only.
In this writing seminar, we will study the role of boundaries between truth and fiction in the presentation of science to popular audiences today. The course will revolve around two main themes. First, we will examine scientific inaccuracy for the sake of entertainment – how works of science fiction and sensationalist online news sites manipulate scientific facts to leave a more spectacular impression. Second, we will look at the portrayal of physics to the general public in works of popular science – how writers balance the intricacies of expounding advanced and often mathematically based subject matter with the simplicity and clarity necessary for general comprehension. Together, we will investigate whether missing information can sometimes serve as a better educational tool than the full story. How much information is necessary for understanding? Must we always sacrifice accuracy in the name of accessibility? And what is at stake when we do? By reading, analyzing, and discussing a range of sources with different goals and audiences, we will learn how to express technical ideas selectively, succinctly, and engagingly in writing.
First-Year Program: Writing Seminars (FIRST-UG)