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Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: MAPP502 Course ID: 4677 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

The art of good public writing involves many stages: good memos and grant proposals do not just “happen” overnight. And competent reports or engaging press releases do not constitute everything you know about their central subject. They are the product of much thought, research and frequently much revision. The good news is that, like any technique, it is one that can be learned through practice and useful feedback. MAPP 502 is designed to provide just this, with a special emphasis on developing self-evaluation techniques for you to draw from and use professionally long after you have completed your Master’s degree.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
11/30/20 - 04/30/21 05/03/21 - 06/27/21 Spring 2021 Session I 8 Week session
12/28/20 - 06/04/21 06/07/21 - 08/01/21 Spring 2021 Session D 8 Week session
02/22/21 - 07/30/21 08/02/21 - 09/26/21 Summer 2021 Session I 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to meet the following learning objectives:

  1. Develop your professional writing skills in the context of policy making/public administration and refine a variety of these skills through writing different types of policy papers.
  2. Examine how to find and cite reliable sources in public communications and appreciate some of the central laws on clear writing for policy and public service purposes.
  3. Identify the key components in different types of public writing genres as well as isolate good and bad techniques in one’s own writing and that of others.
  4. Apply an appropriate writing style to effectively communicate policy recommendations for different audiences and their diverse policy situations.
  5. Develop critical analytic skills further through wide reading, using different perspectives and effectively incorporating the work of others in your writing, including good citation practice.
  6. Describe how to plan, research for, structure and write an incisive policy brief, a persuasive grant proposal, a detailed white paper, and an engaging press release.

Self Introduction: The first forum includes a self-introduction, which should include your name, where you are located (country, state, or city), what your current job title is, where you received your undergraduate degree and in what field, any information you care to share about your family and hobbies, and what you hope to get out of the course. Note that the exercise at the end of Lesson 1 asks you to conduct some reflections on your introduction essay after you have written it but before you upload it.

This introduction needs to be at least 250 words and posted by midnight SUNDAY during the first week of the class. Do not attach your posting to the forum, type it into the comments box. Failure to complete this forum by the end of the first week of class will result in you being dropped from the course. You must respond to at least three of your classmates.

Forum Questions: You will have 9 forum questions, 2 the first week and 1 per week the rest of the course. For our forum discussions we will be dealing with questions and writing tasks raised in the required readings and explained in the lessons. They should include references where appropriate to evidence your claims, data, facts or judgments, preferably from scholarly journals that can be found on the APUS online library under EBSCO or JSTOR. If you reference a government agency please give their website.

Questions and topics posed in the Forums are designed to promote thought and insight. Students must provide a critical review of the questions, topics and issues posed and substantively reply to the contributions of at least three peers. Individual postings should include a full discussion of the content of the question posed and explain how it relates to the concepts in the weekly text readings and other resources. The postings should be analytic in nature and include comparisons/contrasts, and examples that can bolster your point. The Forum is for your benefit and it is important to respond to the discussion topic and to engage others in a running dialogue.

Your initial post should be made by Thursday this week. You should then respond to 3 or more posts. Note that at least one response to your classmates must be made before Sunday. If you make all of your responsive posts on Sunday, you will not earn full points for timeliness.

This can be accomplished by

· Validating with additional evidence from the literature.

· Posing a thoughtful question with commentary which generates further discussion.

· Providing an alternative point-of-view, with evidence and examples.

· Offering additional insight into how the concept might be understood, with evidence provided with real world examples.

You should be active in the classroom throughout the week and actively engaged in the back-and-forth discussion between your colleagues and the professor.

The forum grading rubric can be found in gradebook by clicking on the forum entry.


There are five written assignments in this course. You will be expected to write a policy brief, a grant proposal, a white paper, a press release, and a social media post. Each assignment is explained more fully on the assignment tab. The criteria for evaluating the writing assignments are based on the Graduate Assignment Rubric, which can be found by clicking the iRubric icon for that assignment.

NameGrade %
Forums 30.00 %
Forum 1.1 0.37 %
Forum 1.2 3.70 %
Forum 2 3.70 %
Forum 3 3.70 %
Forum 4 3.70 %
Forum 5 3.70 %
Forum 6 3.70 %
Forum 7 3.70 %
Forum 8 3.70 %
Policy Brief 15.00 %
Policy Brief (wk 3) 15.00 %
Grant Proposal 15.00 %
Grant proposal (wk 4) 15.00 %
White Paper 20.00 %
White Paper (wk 5) 20.00 %
Press Release 10.00 %
Press Release (wk 7) 10.00 %
Social Media Entry 10.00 %
Social Media Entry (Week 8) 10.00 %

The required reading articles for each week are listed below and can be found by searching the APUS library article database using their title. They will also be available in the lesson tab each week in the near future!

Lesson Week One: Introduction to Public Writing

Rose, M. (2010). Writing for the Public. College English, 72(3), 284-292. Retrieved from

Gurwitt, Rob. (2008) Death and Life in the Pressroom. Governing. Retrieved from

University of Missouri Extension. (1993) Clear Writing: Ten Principles of Clear Statement. Retrieved from

APUS Writing Resources – Please review all seven tabs and the links therein.

APA Citation Guide

Lesson Week 2: Guidelines, Sources and Planning Your Public Communications (n.d.) Plain Writing Act of 2010. Pub. L. No. 111-274, 124 Stat. 2861. Retrieved from

Doyle, Susan (2013) The Characteristics of Good Government Writing. Retrieved from

Center for Plain Language. (2016) 5-Step Checklist. Retrieved from

Exec. Order No. 12833, 3 C.F.R. 51735-51744 (1993). Retrieved from

Exec. Order No. 12988, 3 C.F.R. 51735-51744 (1996). Retrieved from

Joseph, Paul. (2016) Trimmed Gobbledegook. Center for Plain Language. Guest Blog. September 7. Retrieved from

National Archives and Records Administration. (2012) Plain Writing Style Guide. Retrieved from (2013) How the Obama Administration Inflates Deportation Statistics. Feb 12. Retrieved from

Sanders, Katie. (2014) Lou Dobbs: Obama administration 'manipulated deportation data'. July 15th. Retrieved from

U.S. Government. (n.d.). Examples of plain language. Retrieved from

U.S. Government. (n.d.). Before-and-after comparisons. Retrieved from

Vaughan, Jessica. (2013) Deportation Numbers Unwrapped. October. Retrieved from

Wadhia, Shoba Sivaprasad. (2014) The Rise of Speed Deportation and the Role of Discretion. Columbia Journal of Race and Law, 5(1). Retrieved from

White, Bryan W. (2014) PolitiFact and the Deportation Deception. Zebra Fact Check. Retrieved from

Lesson Week 3: Emails, Memos, Letters and Briefs

The Women’s and Children’s Health Policy Center (n.d.) The Art and Craft of Policy Briefs: Translating

Science and Engaging Stakeholders. Video (18 mins). Retrieved from

Lewis, Melinda K. (2009) What Makes a Good Policy Brief. Retrieved from

Writing Effective Reports. (2011) Lesson 4.1: Preparing Policy Briefs. In Food Security Communications

Toolkit, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved from

Department of Health and Human Services. (2012) Guide to Document Preparation. See particularly Chapters 6, 7, and 8 on memos, Chapter 5 on letters. Retrieved from

Clinton, W. J. (1998) Memo: Plain Language in Government Writing. Federal Register. 63;111, 31885. June 10. Retrieved from

Laster, John. (2015) Letter to W. Neil Eggleston. National Archives. Presidential Materials Division. Retrieved from

Springstead, Glen, Whittman, Kevin, and Shoffner, Dave. (2014) Proposed Revisions to the Special Minimum Benefit for Low Lifetime Earners. Policy Brief 2014-01, September. Retrieved from

Teten, D. (2013) How to write a memo the people will actually read. Forbes. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2008) Memo: Guidance for NWS Support for Special Events. Retrieved from

Young and Quinn. (2004) The Policy Brief. LGI Training Materials. Retrieved from

Lesson Week 4: Proposals

Fritz, Joanne. (2016a) How to Write a Winning Grant Proposal in 11 Steps. The Balance, July 26. Retrieved from

National Archives. (n.d.) The New GRS: A proposal for restructuring the GRS. Retrieved from (n.d.) Sample Letter of Intent. Retrieved from

Fritz, Joanne. (2016b) How to Write a Cover Letter for Your Grant Proposal. The Balance, May 27. Retrieved from

Foundation Center. (2015) Introduction to Proposal Writing. (27 mins) Retrieved from

Grantspace. (2016) Knowledgebase: How Do I Write a Grant Proposal. Retrieved from

The Writing Center at UNC. (2014) Grant Proposals (or Give me the money!). Retrieved from

Barker, L., Rattihalli, R. R., & Field, D. (2016). How to write a good research grant proposal. Pediatrics and Child Health, 26(3), 105-109. doi:10.1016/j.paed.2015.09.004

Lesson Week 5: Reports

The Purdue Owl. (2006) White Papers. Retrieved from

Porter, Michael E. (2007) Clusters and Economic Policy: Aligning Public Policy with the New Economics of Competition. Retrieved from

The Purdue Owl. (2013) White Papers (vidcast). Retrieved from

U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2015a) Defense Heath Care: Better Tracking and Oversight Needed of Servicemember Separations for Non-Disability Mental Conditions. GAO-15-266. February 13. Retrieved from

U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2015b) FULL REPORT: Defense Heath Care: Better Tracking and Oversight Needed of Servicemember Separations for Non-Disability Mental Conditions. GAO-15-266. February 13. Retrieved from

ICMA. (n.d.) Sample White Papers. Dozens of sample white papers on this page. Retrieved from

Feierman, J. (2012). The 7 DEADLY SINS of report writing. The Journal of Government Financial Management, 61(4), 50 - 52.

Lesson Week 6: Justifications

Grant Central Station. (n.d.) Writing a Budget Narrative. Retrieved from

Nonprofit Association of Oregon. (2013) Successful Grants Stewardship: The Biggest Proposal Budget Bloopers and How to Avoid Them. Retrieved from (7 min)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.) Sample Budget Narrative. Retrieved from

Library of Congress. (2017) Budgets. Justifications for Fiscal 2018. Retrieved from

National Endowment for the Humanities. (2017) Appropriations request for fiscal year 2018. Retrieved from

U.S. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer. (2017) United States Department of Defense fiscal year 2018 budget request. Retrieved from

Lesson Week 7: Press Releases and Newsletters

American College of Emergency Physicians. (2014) How to Write a Press Release. Retrieved from

Hubpages (2014) How to Write a Government Press Release. December 1. Retrieved from

Langfelder, James O. (n.d.) Press Release. Office of the Mayor of Springfield, Illinois. Retrieved from

Rand Corporation. (2017) Policy Currents Newsletter. Hit the “read the current newsletter.” Retrieved from

United States Government Publishing Office. (2015) GPO on track to report historic low EEO complaints. Retrieved from

United States Internal Revenue Service (2015) Federal, State, and Local Governments Newsletter. Retrieved from

Lesson Week 8: Social Media

Latner, Michael, et al. (2016) A Small City’s Path to Getting the Most from Social Media. Governing. Retrieved from .

Walters, Jonathan. (2014) Governments Struggling to get Social Media Right. Governing. Retrieved from .

Dalton, Kristy. (2015) Common Media Mistakes Governments Should Avoid. Governing. Retrieved from

Doyle, Bridget (2016) How Local Government can Navigate a Disrupted Media Landscape. Retrieved from

Gresham, K. (2015) Creating a Social Media Report that Matters. DigitalGov. June 29. Retrieved from

Duggan, M. (2015) Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015. Retrieved from

Marcum, Tanya, and Perry, Sandra. (2014) When a Public Employer Doesn't Like What Its Employees "Like": Social Media and The First Amendment. Labor Law Journal 65(1), 5-19.

Hub Pages. (2012) How to Write and Distribute a Social Media Press Release. October 30. Retrieved from

American Foundation for the Blind. (2015) How to make your blog accessible to blind readers. Retrieved from

Carnell University Law School Legal Information Institution. (n.d.) Trademark. Retrieved from

Fandl, Kevin. (2012) Social Media and Public Policy. Retrieved from

Burke. Katie. (2015) 12 Tips for Scientists Writing for the General Public. American Scientist: Blogs from the Staff. Retrieved from

Havenstein, Heather. (2008) Top Secret: CIA explains its Wikipedia-like national security project.

Computerworld. June 10. Retrieved from

Harkin, Sen. Tom. (2014) Facebook Post, November 25. Retrieved from

Stanford University Libraries. (2015) Copyright & Fair Use. Retrieved from

U. S. Copyright Office. (2009) International Copyright. Retrieved from

Section 508 Law and Related Laws and Policies. (n.d.) Retrieved from

APUS Library. (2016) Copyright: Fair Use. Retrieved from

Book Title:Various resources from the APUS Library & the Open Web are used. Please visit to locate the course eReserve.*

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.