Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pulitzer Prize winner to teach at Victoria

Victoria University of Wellington will launch a new programme in creative science writing by bringing Pulitzer Prize-winning American science writer Professor Deborah Blum to the capital to show how it’s done.

Professor Blum, who is the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller The Poisoner’s Handbook, will teach a one-day workshop as part of an intensive four-week summer course in creative science writing, which is being offered for the first time at Victoria. 

The course, a joint initiative by the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) and the Science Faculty at Victoria, is open to students in all disciplines and will explore a diverse range of non-fiction science writing possibilities, including essays, articles, memoirs, travel writing and biographies.

Science in Context senior lecturer Rebecca Priestley, who is also a leading science writer and Listener columnist, will be co-teaching the course with noted Wellington poet and essayist Ashleigh Young. Dr Priestley says having Professor Blum present to students gives them a unique opportunity.

“New Zealand doesn’t have a strong tradition of teaching science writing or science communication to undergraduates so we’re incredibly lucky to have Deborah Blum here to provide an international context and inspiration to our students.

“Our long-term goal is to make Victoria University a centre of excellence for teaching students how to communicate complex scientific ideas in an engaging way.”

While in Wellington, Professor Blum will also give a fully-subscribed masterclass to a small group of writers and scientists through Victoria University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning, and a public lecture at the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Professor Blum is a professor of science journalism at the University of Wisconsin and also writes a popular science blog, Elemental.

IIML director Damien Wilkins says, “We're excited to be partners in a course that aims to help bring the full range of creative expression to bear on the endlessly fascinating knowledge and debate that science generates.”

Applications for the creative science writing course, CREW 352, close on 1 November. To find out more, visit www.victoria.ac.nz/modernletters 

Deborah Blum will give a public lecture, The Poisoner’s Guide to Life, as part of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s At Six lecture series on Thursday 28 November. To find out more, visit www.royalsociety.org.nz

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