Week 14: Monday, November 30 - Friday, December 4

Your goals for this week are to transition from Phase 2 to Phase 3 as you help students choose topics for the greenwashing assignment.  Since Phase 3 branches off in new ways, it’s important to show students how it connects to Phases 1 and 2. Coming off of the fall break, this may be easier said than done, so take the time to refresh students with their academic arguments.

The Phase 3 assignment gives students more freedom to make their own rhetorical choices, as well as more responsibility for doing so.  By the end of CO150, we want students to be able to navigate a writing situation independently.  At this point some of your students will be more ready to do this than will others; keep in mind this range as you design activities. To summarize the student journey during this unit, we want the student to be able to use their critical thinking skills to identify a problem, describe the problem, analyze the problem, and contextualize the problem within an expanded perspective.

Return to the writing as a conversation model

Show students that they have completed the circle—with the academic argument students added their voices to existing conversations.  With the public argument, we begin somewhat anew, with students going through a faster, autonomous version of the semester’s sequence. We’ll begin by:

But first…Have students reflect on the entire process by choosing from one of the following activities or designing your own:

As you transition to Assignment 5, assure students that they have the skills to think critically about the world around them; for this assignment this skills will be necessary in identifying a situation worthy of critical discussion in a public forum.

Introduce Assignment 5, Public Argument: Addressing Greenwashing, Writing as an Engaged and Informed Citizen

Present the assignment sheet and point out that students will be engaging in a new circle of writing, another conversation, yet they may also draw on the vast research they’ve done already this semester. They will find out what others know and think as they become informed about a situation, they will explain what they know, and, in the last assignment, they will add their voices to the conversation about the topic, perhaps initiating a new conversation about the topic.

Point out the ways in which the issue of climate change is highly interdisciplinary, and that this is why we are now going to look at how the university functions.  Design an activity that will help students see this.

Discuss the 7 Sins of Greenwashing and Brainstorm topics for Greenwashing  

Students should have read the following articles:

You may begin with a discussion of the articles before using Terra Choice marketing firm’s “7 Sins of Greenwashing” to help students consider possible greenwashing examples for their own essays:

Sin of the Hidden Trade-off
A claim suggesting that a product is ‘green’ based on a narrow set of attributes without attention to other important environmental issues. Paper, for example, is not necessarily environmentally-preferable just because it comes from a sustainably-harvested forest. Other important environmental issues in the paper-making process, such as greenhouse gas emissions, or chlorine use in bleaching may be equally important.

Sin of No Proof
An environmental claim that cannot be substantiated by easily accessible supporting information or by a reliable third-party certification. Common examples are facial tissues or toilet tissue products that claim various percentages of post-consumer recycled content without providing evidence.

Sin of Vagueness
A claim that is so poorly defined or broad that its real meaning is likely to be misunderstood by the consumer. ‘All-natural’ is an example. Arsenic, uranium, mercury, and formaldehyde are all naturally occurring, and poisonous. ‘All natural’ isn’t necessarily ‘green’.

Sin of Worshiping False Labels
A product that, through either words or images, gives the impression of third-party endorsement where no such endorsement exists; fake labels, in other words.

Sin of Irrelevance
An environmental claim that may be truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful for consumers seeking environmentally preferable products. ‘CFC-free’ is a common example, since it is a frequent claim despite the fact that CFCs are banned by law.

Sin of Lesser of Two Evils
A claim that may be true within the product category, but that risks distracting the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of the category as a whole. Organic cigarettes could be an example of this Sin, as might the fuel-efficient sport-utility vehicle.

Sin of Fibbing
Environmental claims that are simply false. The most common examples were products falsely claiming to be Energy Star certified or registered.

Discuss Mattera and Daley’s articles

At this point in the semester, you know best how your students discuss assigned reading. Conduct a discussion that fits the needs of your class.

Discuss editorial / op-ed genres

Students will have been reading several examples of this genre. Be sure to point out some of the key features and rhetorical concerns.

Discuss blog genre

Remind students of the rhetorical strategies and concerns present in blog writing. Ask students how they might adapt assignment 5 to fit the conventions of this genre. Perhaps discuss which blogs would be appropriate to post their ideas. 

Introduce the Rhetorical Situation Analysis Worksheet

There will be more detail about this worksheet in week 15, but you may choose to introduce it on the last class of this week so that students can work on it over the weekend.

Introduce the Publication Analysis Worksheet

There will be more detail about this worksheet in week 15, but you may choose to introduce it on the last class of this week so that students can work on it over the weekend.

Recommended Homework for Week 14:

The following worksheet can help facilitate the in-class or homework activity analyzing a green advertisement.

Green Advertisement Analysis