WRITING 101-11, 101-23, 101-25: Neuroscience and Society

Fall 2022

Instructor: Emily Parks

Can brain scans detect whether someone is lying?  Is there such a thing as a "criminal mind"?  Do we have free will, or can we blame the brain for our moral shortcomings?

This course will introduce students to the goals and practices of academic writing as we evaluate how neuroscience can inform ethical, legal and economic questions of our time. Students will reflect on themes both ancient and modern: How can neuroscience inform our understanding of our own minds? And how can that understanding, fueled by cutting-edge advances in brain imaging, impact our modern society? Along the way, students will explore scientific inquiry – the process by which scientists work together to build and communicate an idea. Students will experience this process first-hand, taking on several roles along the way – the scholar learning to respond to scientific texts, the ambassador deciphering complex research for a public audience, and the researcher working in collaboration with other scientists (classmates!).

Across the semester, students will work on a team of 2-3 students, co-writing two major projects: an evidence-based opinion article for the general public and a scientific literature review, both of which will synthesize neuroscientific research to address a societal problem of your choice (e.g., racial bias, disease treatment, drug addiction, etc.). 

Overall, this course is built on three principles. First, writing is a vehicle for critical thinking. It is the tool by which students will bridge the classroom and the real world. Second, good writing depends on revision. Thus, students will have many opportunities to practice giving and receiving meaningful feedback amongst your peers. Third, scientific innovation requires collaboration. By joining this Writing 101, students agree to be a contributing member of a team.