In a world increasingly flooded with "fake news," students from the School of Diplomacy and International Relations are learning how to contribute to public debates constructively by writing their own opinion and news articles.
From blog pieces recounting current events seen through the lenses of young international relations scholars, to full-fledged opinion articles published in major news outlets, students are using one of their strongest assets to shape public debate.
"Informative writing is potentially the greatest weapon any future policymaker has in her or his arsenal," School of Diplomacy and International Relations Associate Professor Martin Edwards said. "We live in a digital world where content can easily be shared across the country and around the world. I encourage students to hone their skills in writing for a public audience."
Edwards nurtures that talent in both his undergraduate and graduate students by giving them ample opportunity to practice this public writing, which they can then build upon in their future careers. Edwards' sophomore level Institutions of Global Governance classes (DIPL 2109) have produced analyses of current events connected to broader class themes. These articles are published online as part of a class blog and are a graded assignment.
"When scholars talk about helping students to develop applied writing skills for a professional setting, they are referring to classroom activities that are more active learning-based." Edwards explained. "With an active learning approach, the faculty goal shifts from merely developing a variety of assignments, to creating real-world exercises for students to develop the skills that they will use in their careers."
Edwards has not only brought public writing practice to his undergraduate students. Diplomacy graduate students also develop this skill and often find success in pitching their work to the media.
Second-year graduate student Michael Curtin is no exception. He has been particularly active in contributing to public debate on issues related to international affairs. Curtin is a senior editor of the scholarly journal of the school, The Journal of Diplomacy, and has been published seven times in the foreign affairs publication International Policy Digest. Curtin wrote his first op-ed as part of a class assignment with Edwards, and since then has written opinion pieces on topics such as refugees, the Paris Climate Accord, and human trafficking.
Fellow School of Diplomacy and International Relations graduate students Patricia Zanini Graca, and Angelo Piro have also had their works placed in International Policy Digest. These published students are joined by Vera Dimoplon, whose work has been featured twice regarding refugees and US-UNESCO relations on foreign policy media platform NextGen. Each piece showcases the ways in which these students use their writing and policy analysis prowess to comment on current events.
"The key to the strength of these pieces is their readability for everyone from the policy expert to the layman," Curtin said. "Writing is extremely powerful in any field, so it just makes sense to practice; especially when it comes to the issues that inspire your passion and guide your career aspirations."
Public writing is more than a resume builder and useful skill to have in your toolbox before beginning your next job search; it can ultimately be the work of a number of valued positions across organizations in public, private and non-profit sectors. For Curtin, his experience has shaped his new career goals. He's found writing to be so powerful that he seeks to continue his editorial writing to help raise awareness about important world issues with non-governmental organizations and groups like Human Rights Watch.
Categories: Nation and World