The Writing Center offers seminars in Communicating Policy exclusively for currently enrolled LBJ School of Public Affairs graduate students. Communicating Policy seminars address different types of public affairs writing, including policy memos, op-eds, and grants.
2013 Fall Semester Seminars
Ethical Research and Writing: Avoiding Plagiarism, Citation Mistakes, and Copyright Infringement
Friday, September 20: 12:15-1:30 pm— SRH 3.314/3.355
You should attend this seminar if:
You’ve never had training on what plagiarism means on the graduate level and/or in an academic setting.
You're an international student (since countries’ laws on plagiarism and cultural practices around source use vary widely).
You don’t know how to test paraphrasing to see if it’s sufficient to avoid charges of plagiarism.
You don’t know what fair usage is or how to determine if you’re following fair use laws.
You're not sure how to cite sources.
You want to know how your research process and techniques can help make citation and avoiding plagiarism easier.
Writing the Policy Memo
Friday, September 27: 12:15-1:30 pm — SRH 3.314/3.355
The seminar will cover key elements of the policy memo, including use of formatting and recommended styles of writing. We will discuss strategies to achieve brevity and concision. We will also look at different approaches to the policy memo. Learn what elements are common to all memos and how to use them to greater effect.
The Art of Persuasion: Constructing Effective Arguments for Audiences
Friday, October 4: 12:15-1:30 pm — SRH 3.314/3.355
In Public Affairs, you will almost always be trying to persuade actual people to change their minds or to act—-sometimes both. Two key elements govern how persuasive you will be: 1) How well do you know your audience? 2) How effectively can you construct arguments that will persuade them?
In this seminar:
Learn to identify an audience’s needs.
Practice making effective decisions about how tone and content can meet audience needs while achieving your goals.
Learn how to create authority as a speaker.
Examine the rhetorical tools of logos, pathos, and ethos.
Develop general techniques to create successful argument structures.
While this class is primarily geared towards helping you be an effective writer in professional genres (i.e. memos, briefs, op-eds, cover letters, etc.), the class will also give you tools that will help you write stronger term papers, PRPs, and PRs.
Practicing Concision and the Active Voice
Friday, October 18: 12:15-1:30 pm — SRH 3.314/3.355
Many public policy genres require you to be concise and use active voice. In this seminar, you’ll learn ways to identify and revise both wordy text and the passive voice. We’ll also discuss the conceptual importance of these tools in policy analysis.
MANDATORY FOR PR WRITERS: Introduction to the Professional Report for May 2014 Graduates
Friday, October 25: 12:15-1:30 pm—SRH 3.314/3.355
You should attend if you are planning to graduate in May 2014 and are writing a Professional Report. This is for all students completing the PR, whether you are registered for PR hours through LBJ or through another department as part of a dual degree. This session will introduce resources for completing the PR and will allow members of the PR cohort to meet each other. The session will cover basic information for successfully completing the PR, using the PR template, and meeting PR deadlines.
Group Writing: Successful Writing for the PRP and Other Group Projects
Friday, November 15: 12:15-1:30 pm — SRH 3.314/3.355
You should attend this seminar if you are enrolled in a PRP this year. The seminar will help you navigate and avoid the common problems of group writing projects. By training you to be able to identify the factors and choices that shape a “voice” in writing, the seminar will prepare you and your group to decide what kind of collective voice you will be using. This will make drafting, collating, and editing much easier.
Learning how to identify and use a collective voice will also help you in the professional world. You might be called upon to be the voice for an agency, foundation, or individual. Collective voice techniques can be applied to everything from speeches, diplomatic cables, and annual reports to blogs, tweets, and correspondence.
5 Research Tools Every Public Affairs Student Needs & How to Write a Literature Review
Friday, November 22: 12:15-1:30 pm — SRH 3.314/3.355
Head Librarian, Access Services & Public Affairs Librarian Stephen Littrell has put together a comprehensive, nimble portal for research in public affairs. Come and learn how best to use the research tools he has compiled. Stephen will teach you strategies and review resources. This is a vital seminar for anyone who has not yet conducted in-depth, graduate-level research in public affairs. In addition, this seminar will offer guidelines for drafting literature reviews.