ECON5004: Communication in Economics


ECON5004: Communication in Economics
Semester 1, 2020
Instructor: Russell Toth
Assignment: Public/Professional Writing Project
Assignment Outline
Students are required to write a short essay (750 words) on an economic topic if their choice with the general public or a professional audience in mind.1 The essay will be developed in two phases, with an initial draft submitted for tutor and peer review, and a final version submitted in the last week of the course.
Students are encouraged to select an essay topic and format that best fits their personal and professional interests. The potential subject matter is broad and can coincide with earlier topics in the course (e.g., from one of the three earlier assessments).2 The potential format is also flexible – students could pretend they are writing an intelligent blog post, an op-ed for the newspaper, or a briefing or memo in a business setting. The core requirement is that the essay use economic reasoning and argumentation to make its main points (especially, that there be a main argument to the essay), and that it be written in a style accessible to a non-specialist audience. Hence there is more room for creativity in style and content than for the academic essay. In particular, students are encouraged to use techniques to catch and maintain a reader’s attention and convey ideas in an accessible way.
The final submission will be capped at 750 words, excluding literature references. Students are again expected to follow the Chicago style with author-date format for citations.3
The assignment will be completed two phases.
Phase 1 (750 words; 10/20 points): due 10 May, 5 pm
Students will write a full first draft of the essay and submit it electronically. A course tutor will provide written feedback through Canvas (4 points), which will be followed up with a 5-student, 30-minute meeting with a tutor in the week of 18 May (4 points). Students will also participate in an online peer review and feedback session, by commenting on two classmates’ (randomly-selected) essay drafts on 14 May 2020, on Zoom (2 points).
Phase 2 (750 words; 10/20 points): due 29 May, 5 pm
Students will revise the essay based on all of the Phase 1 feedback, for a final submission on Canvas.
Grading Weight
1 The only exception is that the professional audience you have in mind should not be primarily made up of academic economists.
2 If you pick the same topic, you can’t self-plagiarize – this should be an original take on the topic in that case.
3 Putting formal references in a blog post or op-ed is unusual, but because the essay is being written for a University class, you still need to use normal references. At the same time, there are no requirements around references – no minimum number, or type – just the requirement that you reference appropriately.
ECON5004: Communication in Economics
Semester 1, 2020
Instructor: Russell Toth
The public/professional essay carries 20% of the grading weight for the course.

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