Claudia Dreifus

May 2010

Claudia Dreifus is an interviewer and writer for the New York Times (currently her work is published in the Tuesday edition of the Science Times), and she has extensive work experience with other publications. She's the real deal, and she knows what she is talking about. She's quite endearing, thoguh be prepared for her to repeat some fo the same stories over and over. She dislikes academic writing (this is a science journalism course, after all) and so teaches journalistic writing instead. It's a bit of a shock at first, but at this point I dislike writing academic papers more now. Professor Dreifus encourages us to go out and interview people for our assignments, especially for the final term project. That was scary for me at first, but I actually love it now, and I'm considering a future in journalism after this class. The class format is of an informal writing workshop. There were five assignments: an op-ed, an interview (you write out either a Q&A, harder than it sounds, or a profile of the interviewee), a book review, a query letter (a proposal of your long-form term paper), and the long-form final paper (should be about 2000-3000 words). You need to post by Sunday at midnight before the class when they are due, read everything posted by Tuesday, and then we discuss the pieces, what was good, what was bad, what are the greater lessons to be learned? This class should have been called "science journalism." I'm not really sure why it's in E3B except that, as a SIPA course opened up to undergraduates, maybe E3B was the only science department willing to host it. You could write about any scientific topic, as long as you can find the story in it. This class is great for introducing journalists to science writing and for teaching scientists how to better communicate their science to the public. There is an emphasis on finding markets for your work, and students are encouraged to submit it for publication, whether in Spectator, Communiqué (SIPA's Spec, kind of), the Columbia Science Review, or in public papers. Past students have had their pieces published in Audobon Magazine, for instance. For anyone interested in a future in the media, this is a GREAT class to take, especially because no journalism classes are open to undergrads.