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

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Resources for continued study of ethics

Schedule for ENGL 7030

Schedule and readings subject to change

Class Week/Date


Class Plan/Readings (All listed readings and viewings to be completed prior to listed class date)

Assignment Due


Jan. 20
What people think

Introductions, class plan

Ross, D. (2013). Common topics and commonplaces of environmental rhetoric. Written Communication 30(1), 91 - 131.

Schuldt, J. P., & Roh, S. (2014). Media frames and cognitive accessibility: What do "global warming" and "climate change" evoke in partisan minds? Environmental Communication 8(4) 529 - 548.



Jan. 27
Regulation and Response

The Monkey Wrench Gang (Full Book)

Chapter: "We will live to piss on their graves": Edward Abbey, Radical Environmentalism, and the birth of Earth First! (Ross)

Video in class: The cracking of Glen Canyon Damn


Feb. 3
Formal environmental rhetoric

EcoSpeak 1 (Chapters 1 - 4)



Feb. 10
  EcoSpeak 2 (Chapters 5 - Epilogue) Class leading group 1


Feb. 17
Popular environmental rhetoric

Article: Spoel, P., Goforth, D., Cheu, H., & Pearson, D. (2009). Public communication of climate change science: Engaging citizens through apocalyptic narrative explanation. Technical Communication Quarterly 18(1), 49 - 81.

Schafer, M. S., & Schlichting, I. (2014). Media representations of climate change: A meta-analysis of the research field. Environmental Communication 8(2) 142 - 160.

Movie: Inconvenient Truth

(Watch entire movie before class—we’ll watch and discuss sections in class)
Rhetorical Analysis Due


Feb. 24
Beyond talk and the history of environmental activism

Green Rage 1 (Parts 1 & 2)


Ficklin, J., & Andrews, A. (Producers). (1999). Luna: The Stafford Giant redwood tree [Motion Picture]. USA: Retrieved from

Ficklin, J., & Penelope. (Producers/Directors). (1999). Fire in the eyes [Motion Picture].  USA: Retrieved from



Mar. 3

Green Rage 2 (Parts 3 & 4)

Videos: Oil Enforcement Agency. (2007). Retrieved from

Andrews, P. (2009). Striptease to Save the Trees [Motion Picture]. USA: Retrieved from

In class videos for further consideration of image events, pranking, etc.:

Guerrilla Girls

Biotic Baking Brigade

Barbie Liberation Organization



Mar. 10

Articles: Paul, C. (2007). My brother, the ‘terrorist.’ Los Angeles Times Online. Retrieved from

Smith, R. K. (2008). “Ecoterrorism”? A critical analysis of the vilification of radical environmental activists as terrorists. Environmental Law, 38(2), pp. 537 – 576.

Movie: If a Tree Falls (Watch entire movie before class—we’ll watch and discuss sections in class.) Assignment: note the particular time stamp of a section you would like to discuss in more detail.

Florida just banned the words "climate change." We should discuss this.

Class leading group 2


Mar. 17

No class in classroom


  Design and Analysis Due


Mar. 31


Image Politics (Full book) Proposals Due


April 7
Seeking "balance" and the radical right


Patterson, R., & Lee, R. (2009). The environmental rhetoric of "balance": A case study of regulatory discourse and the colonization of the public. Technical Communication Quarterly 6(1), 25 - 40.

Ross, D. G. (2012). Ambiguous Weighting and Nonsensical Sense: The Problems of “Balance” and
“Common Sense” as Commonplace Concepts and Decision-making Heuristics in Environmental Rhetoric. Social Epistemology 26(1), 115 - 144.

Look through

Movie (IN CLASS): Global warming: A scientific and biblical expose of climate change



April 14
Participation and Power

Participation and Power (Full Book)

Split into groups in class, diagram and explain models of decisionmaking

Watch Surf, Sand, and Silversides: The California Grunion in class

U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works:

Alabama Environmental Management Commission Meetings:



April 21

Beyond radicalism

Movie: Pirate for the Sea (Watch entire movie before class—we’ll watch and discuss sections in class)

Book: The Whale Warriors (Full Book)

Class leading group 3


April 28
    Class Presentations
    Final Research Papers due by midnight, May 4  


Course Goals

What is the difference between “global warming” and “climate change”? Is it safe to go back in the Gulf? What happened to Flex Fuel? Why should we care about the California Grunion? When Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society rams his boat into a vessel illegally working international waters, is he acting as a terrorist or a messenger? Can a zine be an effective technical document? What is “subversive” about subversive communication, and (why) should professional technical communicators pay attention to non-traditional communication tactics?

In this class we will examine environmental rhetoric in terms of argument, persuasion, design, and culture, and also explore the impacts various forms of media have on an audience. This class will study the construction and distribution of messages to different audiences, 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 environment-related issues affects environmental policy. In examining these issues, we will consider the role of the technical communication in mediating complex information—thus, while this class’s focus will be on environmental rhetoric, I expect our discussions to prove valuable with regard to the way we work with, and shape information for, all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines.
By the end of this course, you should be able to:

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Required Texts and Technologies


Abbey, E. 1975. The Monkeywrench Gang. New York, NY: Avon. (Any version will do, however)

Deluca, K. M. (1999). Image politics: the new rhetoric of environmental activism. New York, NY: Guilford Press

Heller, P. (2008). The Whale Warriors. New York, NY: Free Press.

Killingsworth, M. J., & Palmer, J. S. (1992). Ecospeak: Rhetoric and environmental politics in America. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

Manes, C. (1990). Green rage: radical environmentalism and the unmaking of civilization. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company.

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


Colby, R. (Director). (2008). Pirate for the sea. [Online]. Artist's Confederacy.

Curry, M. (Director). (2011). If a tree falls: A story of the Earth Liberation Front. [DVD]. Marshall Curry Productions, LLC.

Guggenheim, D. (Director). (2006). An inconvenient truth: A global warning [DVD]. Hollywood: Paramount.

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ON FORMATTING: All writings in this class should follow APA format. This is not a genre class (one focused on teaching how to write essays, proposals, research papers, etc.). Instead, this class is designed to teach you how to understand, and apply, multiple ethical theories and approaches. It is your responsibility to make sure that you are submitting your work in an appropriate format. For help on APA style please see the APA handbook or the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue.

Class-leading Exercise (10 points)
Three times this semester class will be led by a 3 – 5 person group. Your goal is to summarize the readings and lessons leading up to your presentation, and lead the class in discussions and activities which help solidify these concepts. Your discussion should include a presentation with visuals (Prezi, PowerPoint, Rocketslide, etc.), and thorough class handouts. Your presentation—including extensive class discussion and activities—should last approximately 45 - 60 minutes. In that time, you should identify key concepts we've covered, identify any aspects of environmental rhetoric you'd like to eleborate on, and generally offer us a comprehensive overview of our discussions and decisions. Your presentation and handout will be assessed against the standard rubric and your ability to offer us a concise overview of events.

Rhetorical Analysis (15 points)
In this assignment you will analyze a document or website to determine the effectiveness of the document for its intended users. Your deliverable should be a 1000-1500 word report in which you consider your document in terms of audience, purpose, and context. Consider how the document attempts to persuade the reader in terms of ethos, pathos, and logos, and how the document is intended to function (and if it does so effectively). I expect you to bring in aspects of your other classes here—you may wish to consider aspects of physical or electronic design, specific rhetorical strategies, or something else entirely. I strongly recommend you meet with me to discuss your project prior to submission. Be sure to provide specific evidence from both the document and relevant literature, and use formal APA format for the entire document.

Design and Analysis Project (25 Points—10 points design, 15 points analysis/report) (mid-term project)
Organizations and individuals engaged in the communication of environment-related information often use visual design as much as written and audio/visual displays to attempt to rhetorically motivate intended audiences. Your job with this assignment is to:

Many of you may not have had a design course--have no fear. While I highly recommend that you speak to me about your project in the weeks leading up to submission, the design portion of your grade will reflect, primarily, your creativity, ability to conceptualize and design for a specific audience, and use of elements in your design (color, images, typefaces, etc.) appropriate to audience and intent.

Please submit a physical version of your design object along with the electronic files.

Presentation (15 points)
You will deliver a 15 – 20 minute presentation to the class based on your research project. Your presentation will be an early presentation of the work you are doing for your final research paper project in this class. Your presentation should include visuals (Prezi, PowerPoint, Rocketslide, etc.) and informative handouts, and consider both the practical and theoretical elements surrounding your chosen subject matter. That is, your presentation should introduce us to the problem and organization you choose to examine (see research paper description), but also work through the theoretical implications of that organization’s communicative approach.

Proposal (10 points) and Research Paper (25 points)
Your final project for this class will be a 15 – 20 (~5000 – 7000 words) page research paper in APA format which explores some aspect of the subject of technical communication and environmental rhetoric. Your paper should draw heavily on library research (at least 10 viable sources), and include discussion of real-world example(s). Your paper should clearly identify an environmental issue, identify an organization dealing with that issue, then explicate and analyze specific rhetorical strategies being used by that organization. Your paper should, at the very least, address:

If you are not familiar with the basic conduct of a rhetorical analysis, you may wish to obtain a copy of Sonja K. Foss’s Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice.

I expect you to draw heavily on rhetorical theories discussed both in this class and in others. Your paper and presentation will be preceded by a ~1 page (~250 – 400) word proposal, in which you identify a problem, organization, and outline your general analytical approach. You should also identify your paper’s relevance to technical communication, and list at least 5 of your required 10 sources.

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You will fail the class if you do not attempt and submit ALL major assignments. Late assignments will receive a grade of zero (0).

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. Late assignments will receive a grade of zero (0). It is your responsibility to turn in your work on time. Computer-related excuses will not be accepted. In the event of difficulties with our course management system (i.e., Canvas), you may email me your work to get it in on time, though you will still be responsible for submitting it through the appropriate channels when the difficulties are resolved. If you believe you have a legitimate excuse for submitting late work you may submit to me a formal appeal. I reserve the right to reject your appeal.

If you are absent the day a physical 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. 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.

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.

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.