Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

PWR 1KH: The Rhetorics of Race, Inequality, Language, and Education

Main content start
empty school auditorium


Winter: Section 1 TTh 1:30PM-3:15PM; Section 2 TTh 3:30PM-5:15PM

Spring: Section 1 TTh 1:30PM-3:15PM; Section 2 TTh 3:30PM-5:15PM

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP)

Prerequisite: None

Course Feature: WR-1 requirement

In this course, we will explore current debates in K-12 and university education that relate to race, inequality, and language. You may have wondered, for instance, what exactly is critical race theory, and what are the central arguments made for and against it in education? What are the best ways to teach bilingual and multilingual students? Is ethnic studies divisive? Do multicultural and antiracist education interfere with academic rigor?

We will examine critical debates regarding language, race, and inequality, how they intersect with each other, and how scholars, politicians, and activists employ various rhetorical strategies to persuade their audiences in these debates. Course topics may include culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy, bilingual and dual language education, diversity and belonging in private schools, dis/ability studies and inclusion, and gender and sexuality. For all topics, we will discuss, analyze, and write about how various rhetorics can both empower and disempower dominant social groups and those that are marginalized. 

For the final research projects, you will have the space to explore your current and burgeoning disciplinary interests as they intersect with the course theme. For example, within dis/ability studies, one might investigate how advances in neuroscience can inform inclusive language and literacy teaching. Alternatively, you might examine the disproportionate representation of students of color and low-income students in special education or their underrepresentation in gifted education. Students with more invested interests in language and culture might use this opportunity to explore the role of cultural rhetorics in decolonial literacy education or the political rhetorics of bilingual and bidialectal education. How do issues of race and linguistic equity factor into the assessment and placement of students in various educational settings? 

Our goal is to examine the dynamic and intersectional nature of power and privilege, how rhetoric is used to construct these social positions, and how national and international debates on race, inequality, and language connect to these experiences and our future career aspirations.

Major Assignments

Rhetorical Analysis

(1500-1800 words; 5-6 pages) For this assignment, you will analyze how one of our course texts uses rhetorical strategies to examine power and privilege in education. You will choose from a variety of written and spoken genres, such as academic essays, articles, blogs, interviews, speeches, and movie excerpts.

Texts in Conversation

(1800-2400 words; 6-8 pages) This assignment will serve as a foundation for the Research-Based Argument paper. You will select an issue related to race, inequality or language in education and examine 4-6 sources that focus on this issue, analyzing how the authors frame this issue, the rhetorical context of each piece, and how the authors converge and diverge in their differing ideas and argumentation.

Research-Based Argument

(3600-4500 words; 12-15 pages) In this culminating research paper, you will conduct further research on the educational issue that you explored for the Texts in Conversation assignment. Synthesizing a range of sources, you will use various rhetorical strategies to advance and defend an argument about this issue and clearly articulate how matters of power and privilege influence both your own positionality and the interests of all stakeholders involved in the issue.

Photo credit: Nathan Dumlao