Phase 3 Beyond Scholarly Contribution:  Extending the Conversation to a Public Audience

Students have, at this point, successfully completed a full cycle of the writing-as-conversation metaphor.  They have listened closely and critically to the on-going conversation exploring the rhetoric of green, they have posed and refined research questions to lead them toward a position on an issue related to green messages, they have found ways to support their ideas through effective academic research, and they have contributed their ideas in the form of an academic argument.  We hope students have begun to understand how critical sustained inquiry crosses disciplinary boundaries, often extending outside the walls of academia.  While we certainly want our students to be able to write as scholars, we also want them to encourage their participation in civic debates; in other words, we want them to be able to write for a public audience as engaged and informed citizens.

When addressing a public audience, it is often important to use popular genres.  Traditionally, opinion pages in newspapers have been widely read by the general public looking for opinionated takes on current debatable issues.  Blogs are increasingly becoming a common way for public arguments to be made and commented on, although they do not enjoy the historical credibility that many traditional news sources share.  In Phase 3, the students will be writing in one of two popular genres as they seek to inform their audience of the phenomenon known as “greenwashing.”   By asking students to take their concerns public, we hope they will have a positive experience of writing as engaged and informed citizens.

Students will find a concrete, visual example of greenwashing. Then they will summarize the visual rhetoric before analyzing and responding to the features of this specific case of greenwashing.  The response will go beyond an obvious interpretation of the greenwashing by examining its underlying assumptions and implications and linking them to the larger social context.  In other words, Phase 3 offers the students an opportunity to use the fundamental skills taught in CO150, namely, the ability to use writing to communicate a critical analysis of an issue clearly and concisely with an awareness of the rhetorical situation.