ERIC Number: EJ933540
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Abstractor: As Provided
Practicing "Safe" Technical Communication
Dombrowski, Paul M.
Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, v41 n3 p255-270 2011
The nuclear power industry is undergoing a renaissance, led by initiatives from the Obama administration and several states. In light of this development and the growing information economy, it is crucial that the public be well-informed, effective, and responsible regarding important technological issues. For this reason, undergraduate education, whether for technical or non-technical majors, must include an awareness of the complexity, ambiguity, and interestedness of the use of technical language and information. This is particularly important in communication involving public discourse and perceptions. I discuss here how I foster such awareness in my junior-level technical writing course for non-majors. We focus on the concept "safe" in relation to radiation and nuclear power. This is done in the overall context of making a recommendation for nuclear power as an energy source for the state of Florida for the next two decades, a realistic and urgent technical communication situation. Students see that standards and even the definitions of crucial terms shift depending on context and social circumstances, and that real-world choices involve trade-offs and balances between advantages and disadvantages.
Descriptors: Technical Writing, Undergraduate Study, College Instruction, Nuclear Energy, Persuasive Discourse, Scientific and Technical Information, Public Opinion, Definitions, Standards, Public Policy
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida