Public and Professional Writing

The public and professional writing minor is for people who want to make a difference in their communities and in their careers. You’ll get a chance to write for and critically analyze the communications of community organizations, governmental agencies, nonprofits, business clients, social movements and more.

In all of these contexts, you’ll learn not just how to write in a general sense, but how to write in the world: how to apply your knowledge and expertise to solve real-world problems, how to write for actual audiences in order to get things done. You will learn to be ethical and persuasive writers and communicators, and will be equipped with a portfolio of polished writing samples and the professional skills to effectively navigate both public and professional contexts. The program’s coursework, portfolio of materials and mentorship are designed to help students market themselves to future employers in any career.

Tablet, keyboard, plant, open blank book, coffee closed notebook and pencils sit on a marble desk

Interested in exploring public and professional writing more? Consider declaring it as your minor.

Minor in public and professional writing

Through coursework, students will critically explore writing and rhetoric around pressing social issues (in courses including ENG 350: Cultural Rhetorics and ENG 355: Visual/Material Rhetorics), prepare for specific professional contexts (in courses including ENG 334A: Writing about Science, ENG 407D: Public Policy Writing and ENG 356A: Social Media Writing) and sharpen writing skills (in courses including ENG 405D: technical editing, ENG 406A: Document Design). In addition, all public and professional writing students take a capstone course–ENG499D: Writing for Clients or ENG499C: Writing for Communities–in which they collaborate with local organizations and stakeholders to make a concrete difference, combining analysis and action. In recent semesters, these experiences have included working with Reno homeless organizations to advance policy solutions and with formerly incarcerated students to advocate for increased educational opportunities in Nevada’s prisons. Since writing in these contexts is not limited to words on the physical page, students study and generate visual communication, social media writing, podcasts, and more. The goal of this emphasis is double: produce exceptional and versatile writers and expose those writers to the complex web of social relations that influence public and professional issues.

Required courses

  • ENG 301: Understanding Arguments
    • This course covers the fundamentals of rhetoric, spanning practices in Western, non-Western and digital forms and teaches the basics and historical context(s) of effective argumentation. The course would be especially useful for political science, philosophy and criminal justice majors.
  • ENG 499C: Senior Experience: Writing in Communities (CO14) or
  • ENG 499D: Senior Experience: Writing for Professional Clients (CO14)
    • Either of these courses fulfills the CO14 requirement for writing majors and are capstone courses for the minor - meaning that they integrate all the knowledge developed in the minor and put it to use on a real-world project. In 499C, students create community writing projects in collaboration with local stakeholders (nonprofits, community members, or local activist organizations) and create writing projects both responsive to and relevant for community needs. In 499D, students learn how to analyze and meet the writing needs of specific professional clients (non-profit or for-profit organizations) and are typically partnered with a specific client, and through a collaborative needs assessment, determine a writing project to be done with/for that client. The professional experience gained in both classes is invaluable for students entering the workforce in both the public and private sectors.

Other courses

  • Rhetorical Grammar (283A)
  • Writing in the Disciplines and Professions (321)
  • Professional Communications (333)
  • Writing about Science (334A)
  • Topics in Writing and Literacy Studies (335)
  • Topics in Cultural Rhetorics and Identity (350)
  • Visual and Material Rhetorics (355)
  • Social Media and Writing (356A)
  • Topics in Professional Writing (400B)
  • Writing for Publication (405C)
  • Technical Editing (405D)
  • Document Design (406A)
  • Fundamentals of Technical Writing (407B)
  • Rhetoric and Public Policy Writing (407D)
  • Tutoring Student Writers (408B)
  • Contemporary Rhetorical Theory and Criticism (409C)