Course Goals | Required Texts and Technologies | Projects | How to succeed | Grading Policy | Attendance | Dropping the Course | Due Dates and Submissions | Technology Requirements | Plagiarism | ADA and Religious Holiday Statement | Back to Index

Schedule for ENGL 7030

Schedule and readings subject to change

Date Topic Class Plan Class Preparation Assignment Due
8-16 Introduction


Policies, Procedures, Class Overview

Discuss AU Student Policies

AU Campaign Complain

Policy Cycle

Read prior to class (and bring a copy):

What is the Difference Between Policy and Law?

Definitions of Public Policy and the Law

8-23 Ethics

Martin & Sanders: S1

Ethics and the role of the communicator (brief overview lecture)

Discuss ethics cases.

Discuss ethics case group assignment.

Martin, W., & Sanders, S. (1994). Ethics, audience, and the writing process: Bringing public policy issues into the classroom. Technical Communication Quarterly, 3(2), 147-163.

Choose an ethics case from Environmental Ethics (or somewhere else, check with me first), read it, and bring it to class. Bring a ~200 word synopsis of the case which includes a possible solution.

8-30 Ethics

Hearit: S2

Discuss WPP

Workshop ethics cases.

Hearit, K. M. (1995). Mistakes were made: Organizations, apologia, and crises of social legitimacy. Communication Studies, 46(1995), 1-17.

WPP 1-2 (Policy & Communication)


9-6 Expertise

Eisenhart: S3

Discuss WPP

WPP 3-4 (Framing and Analysis)

Eisenhart, C. (2006). The Humanist Scholar as Public Expert. Written Communication, 150-172.

Ethics case due.
9-13 Finding a topic, Discovering Calls for Comment

Discuss/research calls for comment & WPP.

Discuss ethics case responses.

Move to computer lab and start searching for calls for comment.

WPP 5-6 (History and Argument)

The Federal Register

Ethics case responses due.
9-20 Advocacy & Activism

Harold: S4

Discuss the role of activism in advocacy/ policymaking.

Workshop proposals.

WPP 7-8 (Petitions and Briefings)

Harold, C. (2004). Pranking rhetoric: "Culture jamming" as media activism. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 21(3), 189-211.

9-27 Advocacy & Activism

Buell: S5

Discuss the role of activism in advocacy/ policymaking.

Workshop proposals.

WPP 9-Conclusion (Testimony and Comment)

Buell, L. (2009). What Is Called Ecoterrorism. Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism, 16, 153-166.

10-4 Plain Language and the Citizenry

P&P 1-3: S6

Mazur: S7

Discuss plain language. Examine the Center for Plain Language and Plain's misssions.

P&P 1-3 (Citizens and Involvement)

Mazur, B. (2000). Revisiting Plain Language. Technical Communication2, 47(2), 205-211.

Proposal due.
10-11 Participation and Motivation

P&P 4-6: S8

Discuss participation and motivation. Consider organizational appeals:

Resisting the Green Dragon

Sierra Club: Tar Sands

Sierra Club: Chopper

P&P 4-6 (Participation and Decisionmaking)

Berry, W. (2002). Think Little. In N. Wirzba (Ed.) The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry (pp. 81-90). Washington D. C.: Counterpoint.

10-18 Expertise

Wynne: S9

Peterson: S10

Discussion of readings rescheduled.

10-25 Research and Technology  

Public Policy discussion in student center.

Peterson, T. R. (1997). Subverting the culture of expertise: Community participation in development decisions. In T. R. Peterson, Sharing the Earth: The rhetoric of sustainable development (pp. 86-118). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.

Research Report due.
11-1 Implementation

Discuss research methods, approaches, and technologies.


Wynne, B. (1992). Misunderstood misunderstanding: Social identities and public uptake of science. Public Understanding of Science, 1, 281-304.

Williams, M. F. (2009). Understanding public policy development as a technological process. Journal of business and technical communication, 23(4), 448-462.

Bengston, D. N., Fan, D. P., Reed, P., & Goldhor-Wilcock, A. (2009). Rapid Issue Tracking: A Method for Taking the Pulse of the Public Discussion of Environmental Policy. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, 3(3), 367-385.


11-8 Implementation

Discuss implementation of policy.

Workshop Comment.

IPP 1-3 (Outline and Implementation)

11-15 Implementation

Discuss implementation of policy.

Workshop presentations.

IPP 4, 5, and 8 (Theory, Governance, and Context). Comment due.
11-29 Presentations   Policy Presentations  

Submit to me the final, revised version of your public comment, based on your grade and my comments, and your reflection memo, by midnight on December 3. For your final grade to be recorded, you must provide proof (screen captures, photo of you mailing the documents, etc.) of you actually submitting your public comment to the intended audience. Please upload evidence to our "Public Comment Submission Proof" blog on Canvas.

Course Goals

Change your world.

Do you think Auburn needs more stoplights, or want to refine our bike laws? Wish the Federal Government had more effectively planned ahead for disasters like the BP oil spill or Hurricane Katrina? Want your voice heard in relation to welfare or Social Security? If you have an opinion on how your world is run, you’re in the right place.

This class will examine public policy from a rhetorical standpoint and consider issues of argumentation, persuasion, design, and culture while exploring the impact various forms of media have on an audience. We will consider how messages are constructed and distributed to an audience, how audiences receive and (mis)interpret those messages, what ethical roles the messenger has in creating and distributing those messages, and how public perception of issues impact policy. We will learn how to conduct effective research towards shaping policy, and, ultimately, we’ll try our hand at making change.

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

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Required Texts and Technologies

Hill, M., & Hupe, P. (2010). Implementing public policy, 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Simmons, W. M. (2007). Participation and Power: Civic Discourse in Environmental Policy Decisions. New York: SUNY

Smith, C. F. (2010). Writing public policy: A practical guide to communicating in the policy making process, 3rd ed. New York: Oxford.

Access to a computer

MS Office Suite or Open Office

A Prezi education account

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Class-leading: 15 points Choose one of the readings listed on the course schedule and be prepared to conduct a discussion which ties the article in to concepts we are working with in class. You should have a list of questions/topics prepared in order to facilitate discussion, and a handout and presentation designed in order to draw attention to key details, real-world examples, etc. You should meet with me at least once prior to the class in which you will be leading discussion in order to discuss your ideas.

Policy Presentation: 20 points You will give a 10-15 minute audience-ready presentation on the last day of class in which you present your key findings and recommendations from your research report and written public comment. Think of this as a presentation you would make TO YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. View this as your time in the spotlight at an open forum where you need to convince us to get on board with your idea. Make sure you consider what type of design elements will most effectively speak to your audience's needs and expectations.

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Written Assignments

Reading Responses: 10 Points (2 x 5 instances)

Five times over the course of the semester you will be required to write a response of ~250-500 words to our course readings. You may focus on a specific question, or consider the readings as a whole. Your response need not be entirely focused on the readings for the week, though you may take this approach. These responses are to be posted to our discussion board at least 2 hours prior to class. These posts should be thoughtful, analytical, and should synthesize citations from the readings with your own insights. Please cite information appropriately (preferably in APA format).

Ethics Case Group Assignment: 10 Points

Along with your group, develop a ~1000 word ethics case in relation to some concern in your world. You should treat this as the development of a story, where a protagonist, or group, must make an ethics-based decision. While the story itself may be fictional--to some extent--please base your case in reality, drawing upon real policies, procedures, newscasts, etc. where appropriate.

Post your cases in Canvas.

Response to Ethics Cases: 5 Points

Individually publically respond to at least one of the class-posed ethics problems in a thoughtful manner. ~500 words.

Making/Changing Public Policy Assignment: 40 Points Total. See Chapter 9 of Writing Public Policy. Start by finding a Call for Comment, or identifying/contacting an audience/administrator.  A good place to start is with the Federal Register Advanced Search Page. Look for Proposed Rules and Notices, or try the more user-friendly

Proposal: 10 Points Write a proposal memo (~1000 words) to me in which you:

  • Define the policy problem
  • Identify the audience for your public comment
  • Identify the problem
  • Describe your research plan and timeline
  • Provide evidence of having considered how you might contribute to ongoing discussion/what changes you might propose

Chapter 10 in Writing Public Policy may help with this.

Research Report: 10 Points Develop a well-researched (at least 10 viable sources, ~1500-2500 words) informational report on an environment-related problem in your world. This is the information-only component of your policy assignment. Your goal here should be to create a logos-based, facts only, non-recommendation statement of a problem. We’ll discuss the complexities of such a thing in class, but the end goal here is an as-clinical-as-possible write up of a situation.

Public Comment: 10 Points Distill your report down to a written public comment to an administrator. Your comment should meet the length requirements suggested by the forum in which you will be presenting your comment. In short, your comment should have:

  • Narrow focus
  • Evidence, analysis and references supporting your views
  • Indication of public support of your view
  • Positive and feasible alternatives

Revised Comment and Reflection Memo on Commentary Cycle: 10 Points

1. Revise your comment based on my feedback and submit it to your intended audience.

2. Using references to the extensive readings we've completed throughout the class, write a ~500-1000 word reflection on the cycle of public commentary you've just completed. Consider your project management arc in detail (finding a problem, determining and analyzing audience, researching the subject matter, designing a rhetorically effective comment, designing a rhetorically effective presentation, etc.). Make sure that you tie your thoughts in to our course readings and discussions.

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All major assignments must be turned in in order to pass this class.

Grades on assignments will be determined according to the following criteria:

Projects submitted more than 7 days after the due date will not be accepted for a grade (they will receive a zero), though I will be happy to look over the project and offer constructive commentary.

Team Assignments

Team assignments receive grades based on group and individual work. It is possible that unsatisfactory participation in team assignments will result in a lower participation grade or a lower grade on the team assignment itself. You may be called upon to evaluate your own or your team members' performance on group assignments.

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The following policies intend to help you develop and display professional work habits, both in individual and team work. These habits include meeting deadlines, doing required work, and regular attendance. Please read these policies carefully.

How to Succeed in this Course

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Attendance and Tardiness Policy

*While all students should plan to attend every class, graduate students, in particular, should not miss class. Ever.

You are allowed 2 unexcused absences in this class. All unexcused absences beyond 2 will result in a loss of 1 point from your final semester's point total for each absence.

The 2 absences that do not deduct points from your grade are not considered "allowed," "free," or "permitted"-- they only result in no points being deducted from your grade. Any quizzes or participation grades given on a day when you are absent without documentation will result in a grade of zero (0) for that quiz/participation assignment and may not be made up.

Do not show up late to class. If a participation grade or quiz is given during the first 15 minutes and a student arrives late, a grade of zero (0) will be received for that assignment.

A student will be excused from attending classes or other required activities, including examinations, for documented University-approved functions (such as competing in an athletic event), or the observance of a religious holy day and the time necessary to travel for this observance. The student will not be penalized for the absence and will be permitted to take an exam or complete an assignment missed during the excused absence. The policy applies only to the documented University-approved events and official holy days of tax-exempt religious institutions. No prior notification of the instructor is required, though is requested.

Other than exceptions related to university-related events and religious circumstances, only a note from a doctor or death notice for an immediate family member will result in an absence being excused. Personal circumstances are not considered acceptable for excusing an absence.

Please see Auburn University's policies for additional materials relating to what constitutes an "excused" absence.

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Dropping the Course

If you drop the course, you must do so in person at the Office of the Registrar. I cannot drop you from the course. It is your responsibility to make yourself aware of the drop dates.

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Due Dates and Submission Technology

You will fail the class if you do not attempt and submit ALL major assignments. Assignments more than a week late automatically receive a grade of zero (0). It is your responsibility to turn in your work on time. Computer-related excuses will not be accepted.

Hardcopy assignments are due by the beginning of the designated class period, unless specified otherwise. Electronic assignments are to be submitted through Canvas. While computer errors do happen, it is your responsibility to make sure that your work is in the correct place at the correct time.

Electronic documents must be saved in the following format: lastname_firstinitial_assignmentname.

Documents saved in the .docx format are generally compatible across systems. However, formatting is a major aspect of this class. To that end, you may wish to save your file as a .pdf to insure that all formatting appears to me exactly as you intended. There are several free options available to you, beyond those offered by most office software suites, including bullzip, pdfill, and cutepdf, among others. The excuse "it didn't look like that on my computer" will not be accepted.

If you are absent the day an assignment is due, I will not accept the work via email. You must make arrangements with me to submit work before the deadline or put your work in my department mailbox. You will lose ten percent (10 %) of the available points for the assignment per calendar day late. If extenuating circumstances apply (see below), your work will be due the day after your return from your athletic event or the day after you attend the emergency appointment or funeral.

I may give quizzes at any time during the class. These quizzes cover the specified readings, but they may also cover material introduced in previous classes/chapters. I do not offer make-up quizzes for any reason other than absences for university business (and only with proper university documentation), documented illness (a clinic must document the episode of illness if you have a chronic illness), or the death of an immediate family member. Additionally, late homework exercises will not be accepted under any circumstances.

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Basic Technology Requirements


You are expected to be familiar with the day-to-day operation of computers including email (and sending attachments) and standard software. If you are not familiar with basic computing skills, speak to me as soon as possible, so that we can familiarize you with basic procedures.

You are also expected to have regular access to computing technology whether it be your computer at home or the computers provided by the university. The statement, "I don't have access to a computer" is not acceptable.

Hardware and Disk Media Requirements

It is your responsibility to ensure that the computer(s) and disk(s) you use are functional and that you have, in the case of technological failure, backed up your data. Bring a USB drive to class, keep your work on it, and keep your work updated.

Email Requirement

You are required to have a viable email account.

When sending email to me, your instructor, or to your classmates, please ensure the subject line is formatted as:

RE: ENGL 7030- [Your Last Name]

Identifying emails from students is difficult, especially when sent from accounts outside of the university. If you do not include a valid subject line it may go straight to junk mail, or I may delete your email myself.

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Plagiarism includes any use of words or ideas of another writer that would allow readers unfamiliar with the source to assume that the words or ideas originated with you. THIS INCLUDES USE OF IMAGES. Policy does not allow me to judge whether an instance of plagiarism is accidental or deliberate. If I find in your work 1) another writer's work inserted without quotation marks or acknowledgment, 2) a close, unacknowledged paraphrase of someone else's writing, or 3) another writer's research or analysis presented without acknowledgment, then I will treat it like a plagiarized assignment and deal with it appropriately. Sanctions range from failing the assignment to expulsion from the university. I take the issue of plagiarism very seriously, and will enforce the university's plagiarism policies to their full extent.

Please see Auburn University's policies relating to plagiarism and penalties.

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Special Needs

Auburn University makes reasonable accommodations for people with documented disabilities. I will adapt methods, materials, or testing for equitable participation. During the first week of class, set up a meeting with me. Bring the Accommodation Memo and Instructor Verification Form to the meeting and discuss what you need for equitable participation in this class. If you do not have an Accommodation Memo but need special accommodations, make an appointment with the Program for Students with Disabilities (Haley Center 1244; 334-844-2096; or All communication between a student, the Program for Students with Disabilities, and his or her professor is confidential.

Religious Holidays

Students requiring to miss class due to the observance of an officially recognized religious holy day are asked to consult with me in advance so we can schedule missed work accordingly.