James and Ruth Brown Undergraduate Award

This award is provided by a generous donation from the James and Ruth Brown family. The purpose of the award is to provide financial support to undergraduate students studying rhetoric. Dr. Brown was particularly interested in enhancing reading skills to strengthen a student's ability to participate in public debate. 

Two $2,000 awards
Note: Funds will be awarded fall semester 2019. If the recipient of the award currently receives financial aid through the University of Minnesota, the award will be applied toward the student’s financial aid. All scholarship awards will be processed through a student's University account (via the scholarship automation process).


Students should apply with a proposal that describes a project involving writing as civic engagement that would engage a public issue, debate, or controversy. The project should be proposed in spring semester 2019 with a completion date the following fall semester. The project could be (but does not have to be) connected to an existing WRIT course, including the WRIT 4995 capstone project. Elements of the proposed project must include the following: 

  • Analysis of a public issue, debate, or controversy (students might connect topics to their sub-plan areas: health, law, environment, or information technology)
  • Communication deliverable that could contribute to the discussion or debate addressed 
  • Poster presentation (to be completed and shared at the 2020 Spring Research Showcase)

Examples of Deliverables

  • Infographic
  • Short translation of complex topic (video)
  • Brochure for a community organization
  • Web site that addresses topic of controversy
  • Twitter account
  • Blog
  • Podcast 
  • Digital story or argument: for example if you were looking at a transportation issue and did short interviews with a person who was affected (get outside of your own experience to understand others’ perspectives)


Applicants for this award:

  • must be a Technical Writing & Communication (TWC) major with at least one year of coursework remaining.
  • must have completed at least 12 credits in the TWC major by the time of award.
  • must be registered full time during the following fall semester at the University of Minnesota.


  • Project must address and productively engage in a topic of public debate 
  • Project must result in a deliverable that reflects critical reading and makes a meaningful contribution to the topic or issue
  • Project must reflect intellectual analysis and close reading of the topic 


To apply for the award, submit the following to z.umn.edu/TWCBrown:

  • A proposal of 1000 words maximum describing your proposed project. The project should identify a public issue, debate, or controversy, explain how they will analyze this topic, and outline possible deliverables they may pursue for the project. 
  • An unofficial copy of your transcript
  • Name of Writing Studies faculty member willing to sponsor the project; that is, meet with student 2-3 times in an academic year to discuss their project and provide feedback. 
Applications due date: May 22nd
Notifications of awards will be made in the first week of June.

Contact Tom Reynolds for more information.