Trevor has taught a variety of academic courses for graduate students, mid-career adults, military veterans, undergraduates, and high-school students. Currently he teaches literary science writing and professional scientific writing at the University of Helsinki. He has also served as an adjunct professor in the graduate program in creative writing in the School of the Arts at Columbia University in New York City, where he taught literary science writing, advised master's-degree students, and evaluated thesis projects. As a lecturer in the graduate program in science and medical journalism at Boston University, he taught a master's-degree course on reporting and writing narrative. In addition, he has been a full-time course program co-director and lecturer in the Undergraduate Writing Program in the Department of English at Columbia University, where he taught several versions of the university's core-curriculum undergraduate writing course on a variety of themes, including American Studies and Gender & Sexuality Studies. He has also taught nonfiction writing at the Key West Literary Seminar and been a visiting writer in the MFA program at the University of Memphis, a lecturer at The New School, and a faculty member at Brooklyn Friends School, where he taught East Asian history and languages. More details below.
Trevor teaches workshop versions of his most popular courses; for more information, please visit the Workshops page.
The graduate courses Trevor teaches in scientific writing help scientists get their work cited and funded, through the integration of writing craft and storytelling techniques into scientific publications and grant proposals. Meanwhile, the literary writing and journalism courses Trevor teaches, and his advising work with graduate students, tend to draw together elements of literary writing, including craft techniques from memoir, fiction, and poetry, with elements of conventional and immersion journalism, along with insights from science and technology studies. While helping students think deeply about journalistic ethics, the social context of different sources, and the complex relationships between writers, subjects, and readers, Trevor strives to give students a range of approaches to reporting, researching, and constructing essayistic, literary, and narrative nonfiction in a variety of forms, short and long. Trevor also teaches these approaches as ways to enhance news reporting and the communication of science to the public, including in his workshops. In Trevor's classes students often work in science- and environment-related subject areas, but also engage with food, health, religion, gender, race, and other subjects. As both a teacher and an editor Trevor has worked closely with nonfiction writers on structuring book-length projects as well.
The writing courses Trevor has helped develop and teach in the undergraduate core curriculum at Columbia University were structured around four demanding essay assignments every semester, each involving an intense process of drafting, feedback, and revision. The courses also included in-class student presentations and regular one-on-one teacher conferences. Trevor worked with a highly diverse range of college freshmen, mid-career adults, and military veterans from a variety of backgrounds. Students learned to craft compelling essays, conduct rhetorical analysis, assess and use a variety of journalistic and scholarly sources, develop their own research projects, workshop each other's writing, and enter the public sphere by writing and submitting their own op-eds for publication, some of which were published in online and mainstream journalistic venues.
Most recently Trevor's undergraduate writing courses were themed around contemporary readings in American Studies, a subject area in which he led a curriculum team that developed units on race, class, political rights, and free speech. For two years Trevor also taught similar courses at Columbia themed around Gender & Sexuality Studies, and served on a curriculum development team in that subject area as well. Trevor also supported first- and second-year instructors through formal mentorship and class-observation reports, and in the past has served as a teaching assistant for the Department of English's graduate training course in writing pedagogy, Teaching Writing: Theory and Practice.
Courses in East Asian Studies
Earlier in his career Trevor taught East Asian studies—in an undergraduate seminar at The New School in New York City that examined Japan through food, religion, and erotica, and as a member of the faculty of Brooklyn Friends School for two years, where he developed and taught a new East Asian studies curriculum in the upper school, including courses in the modern history of China and Japan and in classical Chinese philosophy, as well as language classes in Mandarin Chinese.
In addition to his teaching duties Trevor has been a frequent public speaker at schools, universities, and symposia on the topics of his books, emphasizing environmental stewardship and how personal choices can contribute to sustainability.
To learn more about Trevor's work as a public speaker, click here.
From Buki Papillon,
author of the critically acclaimed novel An Ordinary Wonder:
"I will always be immensely grateful for Trevor Corson's class. I learned a lot about nonfiction writing techniques and skill and also enjoyed the class immensely. Trevor's workshop approach fostered a true spirit of community amongst his students as he encouraged each of us to contribute to the critiquing process in a way that maximized the results for everyone. Trevor's own critiques were insightful and, between the diagrams he would occasionally create on the board and his analysis of each student's story, I left feeling that I had gained more from his workshop than I imagined possible. I carried with me the basic important fact that in order to write successful nonfiction, I have to tell a good story while unobtrusively weaving in verifiable information. I also very much appreciated the fact that Trevor treated every one of us as talented writers who one day could be fellow professionals, so that I left his class feeling both challenged and encouraged that we had all been given the tools to steer safely through writing our own real stories."
Course-evaluation comments from PhD students in the sciences:
"The teacher in this class, Trevor Corson, is exceptionally good, knowledgable, thorough and engaging. The material and the structure of the course is extremely well thought out. The instructor-student communication is great prior, during and after classes: prior the classes students are being told what to expect for each session, why we cover the topics we do from the perspective we do; during class there is a right amount of group-work and the classical lecturing; after classes feedback is always provided and the assignments given flow as natural continuation on the contents covered in the classes. Great work!"
"I was very positively surprised, since this course actually helped me to develop a whole new way of thinking about scientific writing. I felt encouraged: that you are allowed to write, to build stories, and not just live in the world of jargon that dominates scientific writing. Great course, thank you!"
"The course exceeded my expectations. I was prepared for a rather traditional writing course but this one was much more useful with its emphasis on structure and larger issues that tend to get glossed over too often. The course worked surprisingly well online and all the classes were structured really nicely so that three-hour online sessions didn't feel too heavy. Everything was important: the writing exercises were incredibly useful, the material was interesting and the feedback sessions great (both reading other people's texts and getting feedback). Trevor was also a great teacher, definitely one of the best I've had."
"The course was inspiring, pleasant, and helpful. The teacher made this online course interactive and he made the technical issues as easy as possible, I really appreciated that. I liked the interactive feedback sessions with other students and I am impressed how much effort and time the teacher put into giving feedback on our texts. The course material is fantastic and very helpful! I will use it in the future. I achieved my learning goal of progressing with my paper by rewriting the text again and again. The homework was very useful. The feedback of the students and the teacher gave me new ideas. I could not have imagined a better teacher for this course. :)"
"This course should be compulsory to all science students during their first year. The course significantly improved my understanding of how to write a scientific article. Trevor Corson is a very dedicated teacher. He explained things clearly and taught us how to think outside our own field. As an online course it was also very interactive. All the lecture materials were relevant and valuable and can be used for reference in the future. In addition, it was most useful that other participants gave their comments and feedback on my writing."
"The course forced us (in a very good way) to truly challenge ourselves and the way we perceived writing so far. I think progress was visible week after week and therefore my expectations were more than matched. The level of effort Trevor invested in forming our tasks in every class was very high and it always served towards a good purpose."
"The learning material was excellent and well prepared. Regular exercises, detailed instructions, time and space to write. I thoroughly enjoyed the course with Trevor. He was very engaging and was able to teach with relatable examples."
"From this course I got completely new, inspiring perspectives on academic writing and, in fact, writing in general. The Zoom lectures were interactive and interesting."
"This is a very useful course for graduate students who need to write scientific papers. My understanding of and skill at scientific writing have been improved a lot during the course. I enjoyed a lot in this course, and Trevor is a great teacher."
"I appreciated the 'writing as a technology' approach. This helped to reduce my fear of a blank page. The teacher, his attitude and excellent working atmosphere were great; the course's structure and organization were also very good."
"The course was great—super practical, and it gave me a better idea about how to write and make it a less challenging process. Trevor was a great instructor and explained the subjects very clearly."
"Trevor is a great specialist, and very good at explaining his knowledge and experience to students."
"This was the best non-technical course I have ever had. Thank you."
Course-evaluation comments from undergraduate students at Columbia University:
"Professor Corson is by far the best University Writing professor. He excels in teaching the course, while at the same time providing helpful feedback in a thoughtful way. He gives each student so much attention and love, and really has helped me grow as a writer and college student. Overall 11/10 rating."
"It is rare to receive such dedication, interest and time in writing courses. Prof. Corson holds each and everyone of us to a high standard, and I worked ten times harder to make sure I met those expectations, because Prof. Corson emphasized how important this course would be for the rest of my academic life."
"He was amazing. He brought a great amount of experience to the table and always made me think in new ways about my writing. I will be recommending him to anyone freshmen I meet next year."
"Prof. Corson is a great professor and a good fit for this class. He always gave useful feedback and was very helpful in the drafting process as well, since he always came up with creative ways to approach a topic."
"I am not fond of University Writing, and it was an absurdly hard semester. Prof. Corson, though is tough but absolutely immense as a professor. His personal charisma in class is almost limitless, and the fact that he is a professional writer himself means that his comments are well-thought out and helpful. Overall, you may work quite hard for Prof. Corson, but he cares about his students and works hard for your benefit as well. He is an incredible professor, and the shining star of my overall bleak time in UW."