The ethics of “designer babies” and DNA modification, the politics of healthcare, the importance of foreign language majors to a rapidly changing planet: these are a few of the many topics that students explored in Wellesley’s Calderwood Seminars in Public Writing program, now finishing a very successful second year.

Calderwood Seminars are small, intensive capstone seminars across disciplines. Faculty challenge students to integrate what they have learned in previous courses and to communicate this knowledge to a broad audience. Writing assignments often include personal essays and op-eds, while editing workshop sessions play an important role in helping students improve their work. This year’s seminars included a broad range, from WRIT390 Law, Medicine and Ethics to PSYC343 Psychology in the Public Interest and FREN359 Writing to Change the World.

The program began in the fall of 2013 and was named in honor of Stanford Calderwood, a patron of the arts and benefactor of Wellesley College. Throughout his career, Calderwood realized the value of written communication. To improve the capabilities of Wellesley students as public writers, the Calderwood Charitable Foundation has provided generous support for this program.

This year, the writing produced in the Calderwood seminars has received recognition on and off campus.

Three students were honored with the inaugural Calderwood Prizes for Public Writing to honor outstanding work. Anna Krauthamer ’15 won the Calderwood Prize in Public Writing in Humanities (“Going Back,” written for ENG390 The New York Review of Books at Fifty).  Victoria Hills ’14 won the Calderwood Prizes in Public Writing in Science (“How to make trillions of bacteria shut up, and what this means for medicine,” for BISC340 Biology in the News). Emma van den Terrell ’15 won the Calderwood Prize in Public Writing in Social Science (“Agnost-a-what?” for AMST355 Critiquing American Popular Culture).

Other students have published their work in outside journals and websites. The Huffington Post has published pieces by Maura Dickey ’15, Charlotte Fitzek ‘15, Ana Harris ’15, Alexandra Levy ’15, Gabrielle Van Tassel ’16 and Catherine Ho ’16, Delia M. Arias de Leon ’16 and Jane Yan ’15, with several more articles expected in the upcoming weeks.

When the new academic year begins in the fall, the program will continue expanding. “There is a keen interest among both faculty and students in the Calderwood Seminars in Public Writing,” said David Lindauer, Stanford Calderwood Professor in Economics. “In 2015-16, our third year, we will offer 11 seminars, an increase from the nine Calderwood Seminars offered in each of the first two years of the program.” The seminars will span the departments of biology, English, environmental studies, Spanish, philosophy, and more, including four brand-new seminars. Said Lindauer, “The range of departments and programs indicates that the basic approach of the seminars works across the disciplines and is providing a unique and valuable learning experience.”