Environmental impact assessment (EIA) constantly uses reasoning to reach conclusions. That process is called 'argument'. Not argument meaning 'quarrel,' but argument meaning a series of reasons, leading to conclusions, targeted for a specific audience. Most professionals are not formally trained in organized reasoning. Therefore they do not know there are many techniques of argument that organize ideas to help an audience better understand the reasoning in written presentations. Assessments are complex documents. Using the tools of argument can make them easier for audiences to understand. And easier for authors to write!
This two-day workshop will share guidelines for organized reasoning. These guidelines apply to all professional technical writing, but this workshop specifically targets the challenges of EIA. This is an intermediate level workshop. Participants should have experience participating in writing one or more assessments. They should have some experience with the difficulties of preparing an assessment and of challenges that come from the reactions of different audiences to assessment documents.
The workshop shows how written EIA documents contain common errors in their arguments. We will distinguish three different kinds of argument that technical writing and EIAs contain and two different approaches to making arguments. Participants practice assembling evidence and reasons for each kind of, and approach to, argument. We show several steps, and introduce some computer-based tools, that bring better argument into technical report writing. At the end, participants will have a new perspective on how to write technical reports and EIAs, and several new techniques they can use on the job.
|Prerequisites:||Previous participation in preparing and writing IA documents|
|Duration:||2 days (9-10 May)|
|Instructor(s):||Glen Brown, Ph.D., Independent Consultant and Associate Faculty, Royal Roads University (Canada)|
Although not required, a laptop computer will be helpful for one of the exercises.
I am an ecologist, environmental manager and educator with over 25 years' experience working in Canada, United States, Central America, West Africa, Southeast Asia, China and Mongolia. Based in Vancouver, Canada, I am an independent consultant and I teach in the Masters of Environment and Management program at Royal Roads University.
Projects I have worked on involved: impact assessment; mineral exploration; oil and gas development; rehabilitation of degraded land; ecotourism and economic development; parks and protected areas; science and environmental education; and endangered and invasive species. As a consultant, I work with industry, government and NGO clients. I have been employed in the environment department of a mineral exploration company and as the executive director of a science education NGO.
Although I am a practicing scientist, I have long been interested in education for professional practice. I completed a PhD in Education to further that interest. (My thesis addressed applications of instructional psychology to science and environmental curriculum.) Since then I have taught and continued consulting work. The master's program I have taught in for ten years is specifically designed for professional practice. (The university's 'niche' is providing applied programs for working professionals.) While I teach in standard units (3 credit courses), the content and the delivery (break out sessions, small group work, team projects) are designed like practical training. I created a course in Analytical Thinking since thinking and writing are important practical skills for professionals. I received my University's 'outstanding teaching' award for my contributions. My recent university teaching experience is:
Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada (2005-Present)
Associate Faculty, Masters Program in Environment and Management
- Designed and teach graduate courses: Ecosystem Science and Management (Population biology, landscape ecology, biodiversity, sustainability, adaptive ecosystem management, watershed science and management, ecosystem services) and Analytical Thinking and Communications (Reasoned argument, structured decision making, technical writing and managing self-directed learning and thinking)
- Received 2008 Kelly Award for Outstanding Teaching
Ph.D., Education, Simon Fraser University
M.Sc., Biology, University of Illinois
M.Sc., Geography, University of Alberta
B.Sc. (First Class Honours), Geography, McGill University
Over 100 professional reports, publications and conference papers