Course Syllabus

English 19: Business Writing

Winter 2019

Dr. Julia Voss

Contact Info:

Class Meeting Times:
2:00-3:40 pm

O'Connor 110

Office Hours: 
Monday 3:30-4:30 pm &
Tuesday 3:45-4:30 pm,
or by appointment

St. Joseph Hall 203

Course Goals & Description: Writing for Social Entrepreneurship

The work in this course is designed to help you develop effective business writing strategies, centered around a social/human need that you'll develop a product/service to address. To accomplish this goal, we’ll write a variety of business-associated genres, including resumes, emails, business letters, memos, business plans, and presentations. Students are anticipated to be Arts and Sciences, Business, and Engineering students anticipating careers in business and business-related fields, including law, tech, and public service. This course requires successful completion of English 1 & 2 (CTW I & II), and satisfies the Core Advanced Writing requirement.

Almost half of your grade in this course comes from group-authored projects, reflecting the fact that most writing in professional contexts is completed by teams working together, not by individual writers. Writing collaboratively in ways that are ethical, challenging, and effective will be a major focus in this class, supported by the team management approach that underpins this business simulation and by a workshop-based classroom environment that allows for regular consultation between team members and the instructor for accountability purposes. This collaborative writing approach will prepare you to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by the distributed writing processes that characterize business writing. 

Learning Goals:

Learning Objectives Specific to Business Communication:

1.1) Analyze and evaluate audience/purpose/situation as they apply to business writing contexts

1. 2) Produce clear, concise, effective audience- and purpose-specific business rhetoric using appropriate style/tone and genre

1.3) Design accurate and visually appealing documents in multiple modes

1.4) Collaborate effectively as a member of a writing team

Learning Objectives for Core Advanced Writing: 

2.1) Read and write with a critical point of view that displays depth of thought and is mindful of the rhetorical situation of a specific discipline. (supports learning goals of: Critical Thinking, Complexity, Communication)

2.2 Compose texts that demonstrate intellectual and creative rigor, engagement, and clear purpose (supports learning goals of: Critical Thinking, Complexity, Communication)

2.3) Independently locate, deliberately select, and appropriately use and cite evidence that is ample, credible, and smoothly integrated into an intellectually honest text appropriate for a particular discourse community (supports learning goals of: Complexity, Communication, Information Literacy)

2.4) Demonstrate an understanding of their writing processes as modes of learning and intentionally manipulate those processes in response to diverse learning tasks (supports learning goals of: Critical Thinking, Complexity, Intentional Learning)

Course Materials & Resources

  • a laptop or tablet computer brought to each class meeting, fully charged and ready to use
  • Kitty O. Locker & Stephen Kyo Kaczmarek, Business Communication: Building Critical Skills, 6th edition. ISBN: 978-0073403267
  • Print or digital copies brought to class of that day's reading, writing, analysis, etc materials.
  • Anthony Raymond (, Business Librarian

Course Design & Assignments

This course is built around a simulated experience rather than around learning units. While you’ll do standard business writing tasks like analyzing a job ad, writing a resume and cover letter, and preparing memos and proposals, you won’t be doing so because we’re moving to different units with different learning objectives. Rather, you’ll be doing so because the course simulation will require that those pieces of writing be undertaken as necessary tasks at the time. The Fiction (Simulation Premise) The simulation around which this course is designed is that I have won the lottery, and I’ve decided that I want to do some good with my winnings. One of the ways that I’ve decided to do this (in this simulation) is to create Business Incubator 19, a place where budding entrepreneurs can build their teams, develop their first product/service, and then make proposals to venture capitalists to receive more funds and launch their business. You are interested in starting your own businesses, and you’ve come to Business Incubator 19 hoping that over the course of this semester, you’ll get that chance. (Course design adapted from Terry & Olson's "Incubation Center 306," Composition Studies 45.1, 2017)

Simulation Phases

This course is broken into three phases, which account for your grade as follows:

Phase 1: Forming Teams -- 40%

During this phase, you will analyze a job ad, draft resumes and cover letters, and engage in and reflect on behavioral interviews. 3 students will be selected as Project Managers to form each of 3 startup teams and these Project Managers will hire teams of 3-4 from the remaining students. As compensation, Project Managers will receive significant extra credit and be excused from the Revised Job Materials assignment. This hiring process will conclude with good news/bad news letters.

Job Ad Analysis (individual): Decode a posting for a job in your intended field, translating the requirements from abstractions into concrete skills & qualifications (Links to Learning Objectives 1.1, 2.1, 2.4) 

Job Application Materials (individual): Apply for Project Manager role (Links to Learning Objectives 1.2, 1.3, 2.2, 2.4)

Revised Job Materials (individual): Revise job application materials for team member interviews (non PMs only) (Links to Learning Objectives 2.4)

Behavioral Interview Reflection (individual): Reflect on the experience of your interview experience (non PMs only) (Links to Learning Objectives 1.1)

Hiring Related Letters (individual): Write thank you letters to interviewers; Offer positions on project teams/inform applicants they weren't selected (good news/bad news letters) (Links to Learning Objectives 1.2, 1.3, 2.2, 2.4)

Phase 2: Developing Your Product/Service -- 15%

During this phase, each team will develop a product or service on which to base their startup. Doing so will involve a series of email and memo correspondence between team members and the CEO of Business Incubator 19 (me).

Pitch Email (individual): Pitch a product/service idea for the team's startup (Links to Learning Objectives 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)

Team Memo (team): Propose team's product/service to Business Incubator 19 (Links to Learning Objectives 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)

Phase 3: Pitching Your Business -- 50%

During this phase, you'll build your startup by conducting research that allows you to plan your business, research your industry and how your product/service fits into it, and seek funding from investors (a panel of external judges).

    Business Plan (team): Describe your business's product/service, market, projections, key partnerships, etc to investors (Links to Learning Objectives 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)

    White Paper (team): Communicate to an interested, non-specialist audience information about your business's industry and niche/contribution in an engaging, marketing-oriented manner (Links to Learning Objectives 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)

    Presentation (team): Orally & visually pitch your business idea to an investor in a formal, interactive business presentation (Links to Learning Objectives 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)

    Learning Goals & Reflection (individual) -- 5%

    Set initial learning goals for the course related to business communication and research, and track your progress on these goals throughout the term. (Links to Learning Objective 2.4)

    Assignments will be graded using rubrics to calculate percentages (rounded to the nearest whole number) and converted into letter grades, following SCU standard grade conversions:
    grade scale.jpg


    Office Hours: To delve deeper into topics we discuss in class, prepare for assignments, get additional feedback on drafts, check your progress in the course, or anything else related to this class or your SCU experience, I strongly recommend that you meet with me outside of class, either during office hours or by scheduling a time to meet. This is a valuable way to get the most out of English 19, prepare effectively for assignments, and benefit from the mentoring opportunities provided by SCU's focus on student learning. 

    HUB Writing Center: In addition to writing exercises and peer review workshops that are part of this course, SCU's HUB Writing Center offers additional support for writing assignments including the ones in English 19. I encourage you to use their services, which follow the model of peer review and feedback used for in-class writing workshops.

    Accessibility: Everyone is entitled to equal access to learning resources in this class. Please discuss your needs with me face-to-face or via email so that I can arrange accommodations. I am also happy to work with the the Office of Disabilities Resources to ensure your success in this class. Students who are pregnant or parenting are also entitled to accommodations--please discuss your needs with me.

    Cowell Center: To support SCU students' mental and physical health, the Cowell Center provides on-campus medical and psychological services. If you're facing health issues, having trouble managing workload or your life, etc., contact the Cowell Center to set up an appointment. 

    Undocumented and Recent-generation Resources: Many members of our community—students, faculty, and staff—are either undocumented, first-generation, or are affected by these issues. SCU's LEAD Program serves as a clearinghouse of information, resources, and advising on issues relating to documentation.

    Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct (Title IX): Santa Clara University upholds a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct. If you (or someone you know) have experienced discrimination or harassment, including sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, or stalking, I encourage you to tell someone promptly. For more information, please consult the University’s Gender-Based Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy at to an external site. or contact the University's EEO and Title IX Coordinator, Belinda Guthrie, at 408-554-3043/ Reports may also be submitted online through the Office of Student Life or anonymously through EthicsPoint

    Course Policies

    Attendance and Tardiness: Because this course is based on a simulated experience, attending the course is crucial. More than four absences (without doctor’s note) will result in receiving an F in this course. Tardiness also will affect your performance in the course. Showing up more than five minutes late more than three times will count as an absence

    Late Work: All work is due when assigned. An unexcused absence does not allow you to miss a deadline. To turn in late work you must have valid documented excuse (illness, university-sponsored travel, religious observation) and have made prior arrangements with me.

    Classroom Conduct: Always show respect for one another. SCU is a place where ideas are shared, debated, and sometimes argued over. You must be prepared for ideas or values that are very different from your own. Rude or offensive language or behavior will not be tolerated. Furthermore, out of respect for me and your peers, please put away cell phones before class begins.

    Camino/Email Information: Technology is the backbone of most modern workplaces. There is no excuse in the workplace not to check your email. Likewise, to succeed in this course, you will need to check both your SCU email address and Camino daily. Computers and labs are available on campus if you need access to these resources.

    Academic Integrity: From the SCU Undergraduate Bulletin: “The University is committed to academic excellence and integrity. Students are expected to do their own work and to cite any sources they use. A student who is guilty of a dishonest act in an examination, paper, or other work required for a course, or who assists others in such an act, may, at the discretion of the instructor, receive a grade of “F” for the course.” The bottom line is that the work you turn in must be your own. Passing off someone else's ideas or writing as your own is illegal, constituting fraud and possibly theft, which carry serious legal risks in in the business world. 

    Assignment Submission: Unless otherwise specified, you will turn in assignments as digital files to Camino, and I will return them to you there with grades and feedback. Some assignments will have particular submission instructions—i.e. to submit your work to a Google Drive folder, submit your work as a Google Doc, enable editing permissions, etc. Make sure to follow these general submission instructions and any instructions specific to individual assignments to receive credit for the assignment.

    Pay attention to file format: Camino cannot read some file formats, particularly .pages files. I recommend submitting your work in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format, or as a Google Doc.

    Mandatory Reporting Disclosure: While I want you to feel comfortable coming to me with issues you may be struggling with or concerns you may be having, please be aware that there are some reporting requirements that are part of my job at Santa Clara University. For example, if you inform me of an issue of harassment, sexual violence, or discrimination, I will keep the information as private as I can, but I am required to bring it to the attention of the institution’s EEO and Title IX Coordinator. If you inform me that you are struggling with an issue that may be resulting in, or caused by, traumatic or unusual stress, I will likely inform the campus Student Care Team (SCU CARE).

    If you would like to to request assistance directly from the Student Care Team, contact them at If you would like to talk to the Office of EEO and Title IX directly, they can be reached at 408-554-3043/ Reports may be submitted online through or anonymously through Ethicspoint: Additionally, you can report incidents or complaints to Campus Safety Services and local law enforcement. For confidential support, contact the Counseling and Psychological Services office (CAPS), the YWCA, or a member of the clergy.

    Finally, please be aware that if, for some reason, our interaction involves a disruptive behavior, a concern about your safety or the safety of others, or potential violation of University policy, I will inform the Office of Student Life. This is to keep OSL apprised of incidents of concern, and to ensure that students can receive or stay connected to the academic support and student wellness services they need.

    Course Summary:

    Date Details