AEC 4031 Syllabus
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AEC 4031 The Communication Process
in Agricultural and Life Sciences

§ 21EA Syllabus, Spring 2018
Dr. Linda M. Perry

Syllabus for printing (478k pdf, opens in new window)
Assignment Schedule
Reading ScheduleThis Week

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AEC 4031 The Communication Process in Agricultural and Life Sciences is a survey of basic communication concepts as they apply to agriculture and natural resource industries. Students can hone their writing skills and gain experience in effective professional writing and mediated communication. Emphasis is placed on ethics, responsibility, accuracy, clarity, brevity and style as well as American English grammar and spelling.
Course objectives
are to enable students to (1) communicate strategically with specific target audiences on behalf of organizations in agriculture and life sciences; (2) communicate effectively to lay publics about science topics and issues; (3) write effectively for a variety of media outlets; (4) write for a variety of audiences using clear, concise and effective prose with accurate grammar, spelling and punctuation; (5) think critically and communicate objectively and persuasively about issues in agriculture and life sciences, and (6) prepare for careers and leadership in agricultural communication.
AEC 4031 meets M 5th (11:45 a.m.) & W 5th-6th (11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) in MCCB 2102
In the second half of the semester, AEC 4031 meets in 107 Bryant Hall, the Mac lab.
Instructors: Dr. Linda M. Perry • 273-0749 • 122 Bryant Space Science Center
  Office hours: M: 9:45-11 a.m.; T: 9-11 a.m.; W: 9:45-11 a.m. & by appointment.
Mr. Clay Hurdle • • 408 Rolfs Hall • (352) 273-2095
  Office hours: W: 2-5 p.m. & by appointment

  • Telg, R. & T.A. Irani. Agricultural Communications in Action. Clifton Park, N.Y.:
    Cengage Learning. ISBN:13: 9781111317140.
  • Associated Press Stylebook 2015 and Briefing on Media Law (or later ed.) Associated Press.

  • Recommended:
  • James Glen Stovall (2014), Writing for the Mass Media, 8th ed., Pearson
  • Lester Faigley (2012), The Brief Penguin Handbook with Exercises 4th ed.,
    Boston: Longman.
  • Other materials: In addition to the course materials in Canvas, lecture outlines and assignment instructions will be posted on this class website. The lecture notes are not a substitution for attending class.

    Class expectations: The instructor is committed to helping you improve your writing and critical thinking skills. To that end, you can expect constructive feedback on your writing assignments and opportunities to apply that feedback with rewrites for four of the assignments. The rewrites can help you improve both your writing and your scores for those assignments.
    I expect punctual attendance, collegial class participation, on-time submission of assignments and honest effort. While in class, you may take notes on a laptop, but please don’t distract yourself and others with personal uses. Please mute your cellphones and don’t let them become a distraction.










    TopThis week


    Portfolio Potential

    An important part of professional and research writing is meeting deadlines. Therefore, late work is penalized 10% of the available points for that assignment per day unless you have a documented excused absence. You must notify Dr. Perry two weeks in advance and provide documentation for any UF-approved activity.
    You will submit assignments electronically in Microsoft Word via Canvas, unless otherwise specified in class. Rewrites, when available, can help you earn back up to half the points you missed on the draft and must be submitted within one week after the graded assignment is returned to you. Late rewrites will not be accepted. You are responsible for checking Canvas for returned assignments as well as for assuring that submitted assignments have uploaded successfully.
    If English is your second language, you may seek specialized help in the UF Writing Studio:

    Schedule of assignments:

    Assignments Due Date Word Count   Points Available
    1. Letter of Introduction Jan. 21 400   50
    AP Style Quiz Jan. 22 400   100
    * 2. Pitch Letter (R) Feb. 4 500   75
    Journalistic Writing Exercises Feb. 7, Mar 21 600   100
    * 3. Article on AEC/CALS (R) Feb. 18 600   100
    * 4. Cover Letter & Résumé March 4 700   100
    * 5. Press Release (R) March 20 600   100
    * 6. Web Article, Headline, & Tweet April 8 400   75
    * 7. Feature, Science Issue (R) April 20 800   100
    * 8. IT Report May 2 1,000   100
    Agency Work/Class Participation       100
    Totals   6,000   1,000
    (R) = Rewrite available

    * Potential portfolio piece
    Grading: Your assignments are graded according to course rubrics. If you have questions or concerns about your grade, please speak with the grader first within one week of the assignment’s being returned to you, before appealing to Dr. Perry.
    The number of points you earn determines your final grade. To receive Gordon Writing Rule credit, you must earn a C (730 points) or better.
    The grading scale follows:

    A 950 to 1000 C 730 to 769
    A- 900 to 949 C- 700 to 729
    B+ 870 to 899 D+ 670 to 699
    B 830 to 869 D 630 to 669
    B- 800 to 829 D- 600 to 629
    C+ 770 to 799 E 599 & Below

    For information on current UF policies for assigning grade points, see
    Academic Honesty:   Academic honesty is expected, just as high ethical standards are required professionally. There will be zero-tolerance for anything less. That includes not giving, accepting or taking unauthorized aid, including looking at colleagues’ exam answers; plagiarizing websites or others’ or your own previous work; or doubling on assignments without the written permission of all involved professors and instructors.
    Plagiarizing includes taking verbatim phrases of more than a few words without full attribution. Violations will be pursued according to university guidelines. You also must adhere to copyright law requirements. Students should report any condition that facilitates dishonesty to the instructor, department chair, college dean, Student Honor Council, or Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution in the Dean of Students Office.
    More on plagiarism

    Attendance Policy: To succeed in this course, you must come to class. You are responsible for all information delivered in class, including information for the exam that does not appear in the lecture notes. Students unable to attend class are responsible for obtaining class notes and handouts. Make-up exams and extensions for in-class assignment deadlines are granted only in cases of documented excused absences.
    Special Needs: Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office, which will provide documentation for the accommodation. It is the student's responsibility to assure the documentation is delivered to the instructor. More related information


    Reading & Assignment Schedule:
    • Chapter (Ch.) readings are from the textbook; AP readings are from the 2015 AP Stylebook.
    • Handouts will be posted on the class website and/or Canvas.

      This week

    Week Topic Readings
    I • Jan. 8

    Introduction • Letters • Issues in Agricultural & Life Sciences

    Ch. 1, 4, 14; One-Sheet Wonder
    AP: A-M & pp 297-306

      II • Jan. 15

    Writing Styles & Media Writing: AP Style
    DUE Jan. 21: Letter to instructor

    Ch. 2; AP: N-Z &307-320, 511

    III • Jan. 22

    Media Writing
    In Class Jan. 22: AP Style Quiz
    Ch. 5, 13

    IV • Jan. 29

    Pitch Letters • News Leads • Newswriting Exercises: Leads
    * DUE Feb. 4: Pitch Letter

    V • Feb. 5

    In Class Feb. 7:Journalistic Writing Exercise

    Ch. 6
    VI • Feb. 12

    Careers: Cover Letters & Résumés
    * DUE Feb. 18: Article for AEC/CALS (topic due Feb. 11)

    VII • Feb. 19

    Writing Well • Grammar • Press Releases
    Ch. 13: p. 247

    VIII • Feb. 26

    Science Communication
    * DUE March 4: Cover Letter and Résumé

    March 4-10 
    ****SPRING BREAK****

    IX • March 12

    AEC Agency • Strategic Communication: Talking Points
    * DUE March 20: Press Release

    X • March 19

    Writing News Features

    Ch. 15; Handout
    XI • March 26

    Writing for Web, Social Media

    Ch. 11-12; AP: 379-399
    XII • April 2

    Persuasive Communication
    * DUE April 8: Web Article, Link, Headline & Tweet
    Ch. 15
    XIII • April 9

    Issues Management Report

    XIV • April 16 Agency Work
    * DUE April 20: Advocacy Feature on Science Issue
    XV • April 23 Agency Work • Classes end April 25

    FINALS WEEK * DUE May 2: Issues Management Report

    * Potential portfolio pieces

    Rewrites are due one week from the date the assignment is returned to you. You are responsible for checking Canvas to assure assignments have uploaded properly or for returned assignments.

    The instructor reserves the right to amend this syllabus as necessary.


    UF Academic Honesty, Software Use, Campus Helping Resources, Services for Students with Disabilities

    Plagiarism and Copyright

    When writing for news, science, or business, we base our work on facts obtained from a variety of sources. We can freely use factual information from the public domain. We cite our sources so others can access the information we present. We give credit where it is due. We are very careful to use others’ unique expression of that information both ethically and lawfully. Unique expression can be a phrase of a few words or a simple hashtag. We must obtain permission to use our sources’ expression, or give full credit for a limited, fair use.
    • Relevant copyright law requirements will be discussed in class.
    • Assignments submitted via Canvas are automatically vetted for plagiarism with Turnitin.

    Academic Honesty

    In 1995 the UF student body enacted an honor code and voluntarily committed itself to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. When students enroll at the university, they commit themselves to the standard drafted and enacted by students.

    The Honor Pledge: We, the members of the University of Florida community, pledge to hold ourselves and our peers to the highest standards of honesty and integrity.

    On all work submitted for credit by students at the university, the following pledge is either required or implied: "On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in doing this assignment."
    Students should report any condition that facilitates dishonesty to the instructor, department chair, college dean, Student Honor Council, or Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution in the Dean of Students Office. (Source: 2013-2014 Undergraduate Catalog,

    It is assumed all work will be completed independently unless the assignment is defined as a group project, in writing by the instructor. This policy will be vigorously upheld at all times in this course.

    Software Use

    All faculty, staff and students of the university are required and expected to obey the laws and legal agreements governing software use. Failure to do so can lead to monetary damages and/or criminal penalties for the individual violator. Because such violations are also against university policies and rules, disciplinary action will be taken as appropriate.

    Campus Helping Resources

    Students experiencing crises or personal problems that interfere with their general well-being are encouraged to utilize the university’s counseling resources. The Counseling & Wellness Center provides confidential counseling services at no cost for currently enrolled students. Resources are available on campus for students having personal problems, lacking clear career or academic goals, or experiencing other problems that may interfere with their academic performance.

    • University Counseling & Wellness Center, 3190 Radio Road, 352-392-1575,
      • Counseling Services
      • Groups and Workshops
      • Outreach and Consultation
      • Self-Help Library
      • Training Programs
      • Community Provider Database

    Career Resource Center, First Floor JWRU, 392-1601,

    Services for Students with Disabilities, 0001 Reid Hall, 352-392-8565,  

    The Disability Resource Center coordinates the needed accommodations of students with disabilities. This includes registering disabilities, recommending academic accommodations within the classroom, accessing special adaptive computer equipment, providing interpretation services and mediating faculty-student disability related issues.