IDA 260: Women Naturalists of the Western Americas a view from the edge

Fall 2001


  • The course will include lectures, reading of primary literature, field work, and journaling.
  • Students will review selected research articles and readings with a focus on women’s career development; specifically, the influence of gender roles identify on the participation of girls and boys in science classes.
  • Students will develop writing and communication skills that are used by naturalists (male and female) to include field notes, formal plant descriptions, biography, and autobiography.

General objectives: Students will gain an understanding of:

  • The historical account of women naturalists and their contributions to science.
  • Students will examine values embedded in science, most particularly, field work and field collecting.
  • Students will be encouraged to critique and analyze traditional androcentric approaches within the natural sciences.
  • It is expected that students will begin to think critically about what it means to be a scientist, and what it means to be a female scientist.
  • discipline of science as an investigative process. Students will learn how to challenge the assumptions found in scientific inquiry. Students will learn the methods of laboratory and field explorations and investigations in the disciplines of botany and zoology.
  • variety of genres of writing including field notes, journals, essays using primary writings, scientific articles, and interviews.

Writing Centeredness

Students will gain experiences in a variety of genres of writing including field notes, journals, formal plant descriptions, essays from primary research, interviews. Also students will critique and analyze biography, autobiography, and oral histories.

Several opportunities for peer feedback will be structured into the course; two of our long class sessions will be given to peer feedback in small groups on the research and interview papers. Also, in our labs, the students will share field notes and give peer feedback on their research and plant descriptions.

Students will keep a journal throughout the course; this will be a place for developing their analysis of women naturalists, exploring the connection between the structure of science and the lives of the women they study, and generating ideas for their longer papers. The journal should be a tool of personal understanding.

Selected biographies and materials from the course will be prepared for publishing on the class webpage; this experience will support students thinking about audience and purpose in their writing.

Outcomes – work produced by students and materials for assessment:

  • Journal
  • Field notebook and herbarium samples
  • Interviews with female scientists
  • Research paper with archival work involved

*These are relevant sections abstracted from a new course proposal and its addenda.

Willamette University

Writing Center

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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