The best of opinion writing compels the reader to reconsider deeply held notions and it moves audiences toward agitating for social change. Now, more than ever, those of us who write for the public must direct our energies to advocating for what we believe to be good and right. We must also consider the ethical implications of the work we do. It is not all that hard to write persuasively, but it is—as it should be—challenging to write persuasively without manipulating, misleading or misinforming your audience(s).

We are living in challenging times. We are not the first generations to do so but many of the problems we are dealing with are unique to the 21st century. Democracy is facing unprecedented threats and an ever-growing political divide has created a contentious political climate that is incredibly fraught for marginalized communities. Global warming is altering the way and where we live, faster and more severely than we ever thought possible while a shocking number of people deny global warming even exists. Advocating for civil rights is branded as “identity politics,” by an entire political class that seeks to rule by theocratic and a very selective populism. The very idea of truth is being willfully eroded by those who are best served by falsehoods. Now, more than ever, we have to write toward social change, ensuring that as many people as possible are allowed to live freely, in unlegislated bodies. This is to say, that writing for social change is a creative act. It is a political act. It is a necessary act.

In this writing workshop we will explore what it means to write for social change, how to do so ethically and effectively, how to write with nuance about complex issues, how to reach multiple audiences, and how to write in ways that acknowledge multiple, divergent viewpoints. This is a reading and writing intensive course and will be taught in a hybrid format, sometimes in person, on campus and sometimes online, via Zoom.